Signatures filed to force recall vote of Portsmouth mayor
By Dave Forster
© May 6, 2010
A group submitted nearly 9,000 signatures this morning to force a recall
election of Mayor James Holley.
If the signatures are certified in the coming weeks, Holley would face the
possibility of being recalled by the public for the second time in his
Various residents have been working to oust Holley since late last summer,
when the mayor was admonished by the City Council for using his assistant, a
city employee, for dozens of personal tasks. The Council fined Holley $2,500
and asked him to retire, which he said he would not do.
Residents had to collect about 6,700 signatures from registered voters to
force a recall election. That number comes from city code, which requires an
amount equal to 30 percent of the voters in the most recent gubernatorial
election to force the measure.
Recall coordinators Robert Marcus and Dolores Knight turned in, by their
count, 8,775 signatures today to Cynthia P. Morrison.
The group had gathered 456 signatures during local elections Tuesday to add to
their cushion in case some of the signatures are thrown out.
It is practice for the Clerk of Circuit Court to send the signatures to the
registrar for verification, a process that could take more than a week,
especially in light of the current demand on the office from the recent
After the registrar's review, a Circuit judge must rule that the signatures
are sufficient. After that ruling, Holley would have five days to resign or
face a recall election on a date set by the judge between 30 days and 40 days
from the date of the ruling.
To get on the ballot to run against Holley in a recall election, a candidate
would need to get the same number of signatures it took to force his recall,
according to the code.
Holley was also recalled in 1987 after he was implicated in a hate mail
campaign. He was re-elected in 1996.
The most recent movement was ignited by a letter that Holley's then-assistant
wrote to her supervisor last summer complaining of mistreatment. She listed 44
personal tasks she was asked to carry out, ranging from canceling the mayor's
Playboy subscription to calling stores in search of wooden shoe trees.
In a July 27 letter, the assistant wrote that the problem was compounded by
Holley's "verbal abuse, condescending speech, and hostility."
She said he had called her "a nobody" and said things such as, "Who are they
gonna believe, a nobody or the Mayor."