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Earle recall headed to November ballot

Earle recall headed to  November ballot


Earle recall headed to November ballot

Residents to decide fate of mayor with vote

A recall of Earle Mayor Carolyn Jones is headed to the November ballot.

A petition started by resident Early May Wallace was turned in to the county clerk’s office on July 28 with the required number of signatures.

Wallace had turned the petition in to the clerk back in February and although the signatures were found to be valid, could not be submitted because it fell outside of the time frame required by the law in order to recall an elected municipal official.

Under Arkansas law a recall petition can be filed no more than 105 days before the next scheduled election and no less than 91 days.

Crittenden County Election Commission Chairwoman Dixie Carlson confirmed that the petition had been submitted by Wallace.

“It was delivered to the clerk on Thursday,” Carlson said. “And, of course, the clerk already found sufficiency in the number of signatures.

Wallace submitted over 500 signatures on the petition, but only needed to collect 368 — or 25 percent of qualified voters in order to be certified.

Carlson said voters in Earle will be asked to either vote “for” the removal of Jones as mayor or “against.”

In the event Jones is recalled a vacancy in the office of mayor would exist and the city would then have to hold another election with a new set of names for the position.

Wallace started the recall petition because of the turmoil and controversy in Earle since Jones took over as mayor.

“It’s not about what I think,” Wallace said. “It’s the people. They are upset with her.”

Jones got the city banned from applying for federal Justice Assistance Grants for two years as a result of her driving a car intended to be used as a police car which was paid for with federal money.

The city also got in to hot water with Arkansas De- partment of Environmental Quality for illegally dumping demolition material after the city tore down a house on Commerce Street and hauled the debris off to the old compress on Alabama Street. Jones contended that she did not even know the city had a dump at the old compress.

The mayor also made headlines for using gravel given to the city by the county for her own driveway — a claim she continues to deny — and has had a contentious relationship with the city council.

Jones also enacted a controversial new policy requiring residents to sign in at city hall stating their business, and tried to have police clear the city hall annex following a city council meeting.

The city council overrode Jones’s veto of a measure forcing her to park her city car after it was spotted at Southland Gaming and Racing numerous occasions after hours.

The city’s finances have also declined since Jones took office. The city had to cash in a $50,000 certificate of deposit to pay its bills last year because of overspending.

The police department has also been a frequent cause of turmoil and complaint of residents.

Jones also got the city sued after she fired four white officers and replaced them with four black officers. One of the new hires was later arrested by State Police on drug charges and for impersonating a police officer, kidnapping, and robbery. Another officer posted comments on Facebook threatening to take “one or five lives” to clean up the streets of Earle.

Former police chief Tyrone Smith also sued the city for wrongful termination after he was fired by Jones. Jones suspended Smith for 30 days pending the outcome of harassment charges stemming from an incident which took place in Parkin. Those charges were later dismissed. Smith contends that Jones knew about the charge and that he was fired because he fired Capt. John Couch for sleeping on the job.

Jones had made progress in some areas.

She has persuaded the city council to fix or replace broken equipment and make sure they are better maintained, been supportive of a new library, advocated for fixing up the community center, appointed more active city boards, fixed crumbling streets, and been steadfast in changing the city’s lax policies on numerous issues.

Wallace said she has not wavered in her belief

though that Jones needs to be removed from office. “Oh no. Never,” Wallace said. Wallace said Jones is still

using the mayor’s office to settle old grudges and that the police department continues to be disrespectful of citizens.

“There is so much going on. It’s pitiful,” Wallace said. “They are ready. They are sick of her. People are tired of her.”

By Mark Randall

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