Months after the city council imposed restrictions and rules aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, a group of Stillwater residents want to remove all five elected officials from office.
Marc Trotter and Riley Flack are two organizers from Unite Stillwater, a group collecting signatures in order to call a recall election for the mayor and each member of the city council.
“They are not fit to run the city given the fact that they are infringing on all of our personal rights and liberties,” Trotter said.
Back in July, Stillwater City Council passed measures including a mask mandate inside indoor public places.
Flack said a number of businesses have suffered due to the regulations. Some of those businesses were forced to close down.
“I don’t think that a business should be threatened in my community by the government that’s supposed to support it,” Flack said.
Unite Stillwater is circulating a petition for each individual council member as well as the city’s mayor Will Joyce.
Each petition includes a response from each official.
“I have tried to balance legitimate public health concerts with economic, social and community welfare… I do not believe this is an appropriate use of the recall provisions of the City Charter,” Joyce said in a statement.
Joyce has posted messages on social media several times in recent months to call on Stillwater residents to follow health guidelines in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 239 active cases in the city on Friday.
The Stillwater Medical Center also advises the public to wear masks as it handles COVID-19 patients. Since September, the hospital has filled-up every ICU bed at least four times.
Trotter said the recall effort is not necessarily anti-mask, rather they are seeking to limit city government.
“I think it’s a bad idea to get into managing people’s personal lives and infringing on their personal liberties,” Trotter said.
Unite Stillwater must collect 416 signatures of registered voters living in Stillwater to call a recall election. The number of signatures needed is determined by the voter turnout of the most recent city election, which was 1,661 back in February.
Trotter said Friday the group has collected more than enough signatures but will continue to collect this weekend expecting some to be thrown out during verification. The signatures are due Monday, Nov. 9.
If the city verifies that any of the petitions have enough signatures, the recall election will be added to the next city ballot. The soonest a recall election could be held would be February.