Omaha residents behind an effort to recall Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert say they aim to finish what they started after a key organizer stepped back from leading the effort.
The group filed a petition affidavit with the Douglas County election commissioner shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday. It’s the first step in a process that requires recall organizers to gather 34,818 signatures from registered local voters to put a recall election on the ballot.
Stothert was attending an event Thursday and was not immediately available to comment.
She has said previously that she’s focused on doing the best job she can as mayor.
The group has complained about Stothert’s leadership of the city, including her handling of street maintenance, the city’s next trash contract and how she reacts to criticism.
An early organizer of the effort, Sarpy County voter Eric Scott, announced Sunday that he was stepping back from the process.
The group declined to publicly identify its other leaders.
The Coalition to Recall Stothert may have to gather signatures without much money from donors or experienced political help, Scott wrote on the group’s Facebook page.
“This movement will strictly be a grassroots movement with the citizens of Omaha as the commenters and not me,” he wrote in a post Wednesday night. The page had 908 followers.
Group leaders declined interview requests through Scott, referring a reporter to the group’s social media posts and saying they were likely to avoid interviews as they get organized.
The petition sets in motion a process in which the mayor is formally notified by Election Commissioner Brian Kruse of the recall effort. Stothert then has up to 20 days to respond.
Once the mayor responds, the group then has 20 days to pick up the petitions. Once that happens, organizers would have 30 days to gather the needed signatures.
In the past, most groups that have successfully organized such efforts have raised tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire paid petition circulators.
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The Coalition to Recall Stothert says it will gather signatures using volunteers. The group’s post asked for volunteer help with printing, going door to door and organizing.
Gathering that many signatures in 30 days is extremely difficult, even with paid circulators, said Paul Landow, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The group decided to keep its fundraising filing active with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission after Scott had said that he would ask that it be dissolved.
Scott said in the post that the group has about $70 left in an account and that it owes money to political consultants who helped get the group off the ground.
He said that he personally contributed $500 to the effort and that others helped as well.
Scott signed on as the petition’s principal circulator.