Organizers of the effort to recall Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday turned in what they said were 45,500 signatures - more than twice the number needed to put the recall question on the Sept. 15 primary ballot.
Now it's up to the Lucas County Board of Elections and City Clerk of Council Jerry Dendinger to determine if at least 19,753 of those signatures belong to registered Toledo voters.
The elections board has until April 20 to verify the signatures.
If the recall campaign is successful, Mr. Finkbeiner would be forced out of office with about three months left in his term.
Tom Schlachter, one of the backers of the recall committee Take Back Toledo, said the goal of the recall drive is to prevent Mr. Finkbeiner from being elected again - even though the mayor can legally run for and win a new four-year term regardless of the recall outcome.
"If this is daunting to him and he doesn't feel perhaps he can fight the fire on two fronts, a recall and a primary, yeah it's worth it, sure it is," Mr. Schlachter said.
Mr. Finkbeiner hasn't said whether he'll run for re-election.
Deputy Elections Director Jeremy Demagall said his office has hired 30 temporary employees, at a likely cost of between $10,000 and $15,000, to help check each of the signatures.
If the clerk of council determines the petitions are sufficient, Mayor Finkbeiner could stop the election by resigning within five days.
In December, Mr. Finkbeiner said he would not resign.
Mr. Finkbeiner yesterday was in Cleveland meeting with President Obama's auto industry adviser, Ed Montgomery.
"I have but two concerns - providing a balanced budget for the taxpayers of the city of Toledo, and doing everything in my power to stimulate our economy, which is why I am going to Cleveland to meet with Mr. Montgomery," Mr. Finkbeiner said in a statement. "I wish all Toledoans a joyous holiday weekend."
Mr. Finkbeiner, a Democrat, was elected in 2005 in a landslide over fellow Democrat and incumbent Jack Ford, with support from area businessmen - including Mr. Schlachter, who now terms his support "a mistake."
The Finkbeiner administration is bogged down in controversies over spending, political disputes with city council, and an economy that stifled development and is threatening layoffs of police officers and firefighters.
In its petition, the group stated the mayor has backed unsuccessful real estate ventures, been fiscally irresponsible, brought embarrassment on the city, has refused to meet with people wanting to bring business to the city, exceeded his spending authority, and has created an "adversarial environment" in the city.
In a speech to supporters on Dec. 8, Mr. Finkbeiner attacked his critics, several of whom don't live in Toledo, and accused them of ethical misdeeds.
"I have not betrayed the sacred trust I believe in, between the voter and the officeholder," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
"I have made mistakes - but they have been in advocacy for Toledo. Never have I attempted to advance anything but Toledo and its citizens."
He has boasted of the city's winning of awards, notably being named the world's third "most-liveable city" in a contest sponsored by the United Nations in 2007.
The group began collecting signatures on Jan. 11, going door to door, setting up a table in Westfield Franklin Park mall, and hiring a professional signature-gathering firm.
The boxes containing the petitions were brought to Government Center in downtown Toledo in a Toyota sport utility vehicle and carried into Government Center by several of the charter members of Take Back Toledo. They included Mr. Schlachter, who is co-founder of the Moses-Schlachter Group Inc. of Sylvania Township; Andy Stuart, general manager of Clear Channel radio stations in Toledo, including WSPD, AM-1370, which has been beating the drum for the recall drive in its programs; Brian McMahon, president of Danberry National Ltd. of Perrysburg, and Edwin Nagle III, a Toledoan who owns a trucking firm in Lake Township.
The Take Back Toledo members met Mr. Dendinger in the lobby. Mr. Dendinger and council sergeant-at-arms Harold Mosley then took the boxes on hand trucks up to the elections office on the third floor of Government Center.
The power of residents to remove the mayor from office was added to the city charter in 1992.
To put a recall petition on the ballot requires signatures equal to 25 percent of the votes cast in the last mayoral election.
There were 79,012 votes cast in 2005 - of which Mr. Finkbeiner got 48,899.
Typically, fewer voters participate in the primary. In the 2005 primary, 41,998 were votes cast, of which Mr. Finkbeiner got 15,424.
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