Efforts to recall Walthourville City Mayor Daisy Pray and Councilwoman Patricia Green have failed according to documents obtained by the Courier.
Walthourville residents Paulette Jamison and Anita Scurry were striving to recall the two elected officials due to alleged unethical conduct, misconduct in office and misappropriated public property and funds.
After receiving the recall petition applications June 25, the two women collected the signatures and filed the completed applications for recall on June 29.
The city proceeded through their due process and concluded that the petition had failed to meet several legal requirements.
According to Walthourville City Clerk and Elections Superintendent Melissa Jones, the recall petitions both fell short of having the proper numbers of signatures.
“The application submitted for Daisy Pray had 150 signers,” Jones noted in her report. “Of those, 33 were either not registered (voters) or convicted felons.”
Jones also reported that multiple pages had to be discounted because the circulator of the petition failed to execute the affidavit as required by state law. She added that the city’s investigation determined that elections laws may have been violated.
In the document, Jones noted that Scurry had signed all the applications as circulator.
“However, my investigation indicated that Anita Scurry was not the circulator of a number of the petitions,” Jones wrote. In fact, the investigation determined that Bernie Quarterman, an unidentified male, and someone named Jackie Scott acted as circulator.”
Jones said Quarterman is not a registered voter in the City of Walthourville and therefore legally prevented from circulating recall petitions.
Quarterman is the former Chief of Police who was twice suspended, in November and December, and ultimately relieved of duty by Mayor Pray in January.
“The investigation findings made by the elections supervisor confirm our earlier suspicions and beliefs,” Mayor Pray said in a statement to the Courier. “It has now been proven that this whole charade has been, in part, orchestrated and at the instigation of a disgruntled former employee who was terminated from the city’s police force due to systemic insubordination, ineptness and incompetence. Rather than accept responsibility and accountability for his own actions, he has engaged in a pattern of deflection, misconduct and a campaign of attacks on our personal character and integrity.”
The former chief has repeatedly said he and his department were the subject of harassment and retaliation from Pray and Jones. He said he was fired because he asked questions about city finances. He also claimed that Pray had tried to pressure him into planting drugs to frame City Council Member Larry Baker, according to a letter sent to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal from Georgia NAACP President Phyllis Blake.
The former chief said he is not surprised to see his name thrown into the fray.
“I would expect them to say such,” Quarterman said about the current allegations. He noted he does support the recall and has told residents of his support.
He said he did assist with the process, but was with the petition circulator meaning the recall was done properly. He said the residents of Walthourville are entitled to be heard.
“The citizens are speaking so let the process continue and see where it ends up,” he said. “I was requested and was with the chairperson and circulator during some signatures, which are valid.”
Quarterman said the mayor and city attorney may not like him expressing his opinions but he didn’t break any laws and is entitled to voice his concerns.
“It seems the mayor and the city attorney are using their connections to stop the process as they have in the past,” Quarterman said. “I think the citizens, as well as I have, are still observing the acts that are taking place. One should not be favored because of their position; especially, if they have allegations of wrong doing against them.”
He said allegations of wrongdoing against the mayor have been repeatedly ignored.
“There are multiple witnesses to multiple incidents…are all the witnesses just making up stories or giving false statements? I think not,” he said.
Quarterman said they should bring forth all the witnesses to get to the truth.
“I support whole heartedly to stop the unfair and illegal acts I and other witnesses have observed throughout the last years,” he said. “Bring me and these witnesses together and put it in court and give the citizens some rest from this. This is not about employment, this is about conduct. And if I was held accountable for my alleged actions, they should be held accountable.”
In the report, Jones noted that after discounting the invalid application signatures, the recall petition had only 87 proper signatures of the 100 needed for the recall of the mayor.
The recall petition for Councilwoman Green had 127 signers of which 26 were either not registered or convicted felons. That recall also lacked the legally required affidavits. Again the city’s investigation found people other than Scurry acted as circulator. That meant that only 77 of the necessary 100 signatures had been properly collected for the recall of Green.
Concerned that election laws may have been violated, Jones filed a report with Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tom Durden.
The letter is requesting that Durden look into the alleged criminal violations and possible convictions for violating election laws.
Each violation carries a sentence of one year minimum to five years maximum.
“Unfortunately, it may be determined by the district attorney, to whom the evidence has now been referred, that some may have violated Georgia law,” Pray said. “We truly regret that for them. Our door remains open as does our desire and willingness to work with all citizens to continue the progress of making Walthourville a success and a chosen destination for people to live and raise a family. Hopefully, with this decision, the city can put everything behind us and move forward in that direction. By the will of the people and the grace of God we remain able and privileged to serve the citizens of Walthourville. Thank you for letting me be your mayor.”