Petition to recall seven of nine city council members is circulated despite tax change

Kristen Kotz

Attempts to recall, or remove, seven of nine Kent City Council members will continue despite the council’s decision to amend the 0.5 percent reduction in the income tax credit at yesterday’s committee meeting.

The petition was started about three weeks ago because of the council’s approval of placing a 0.5 percent reduction in the income tax credit for those working outside the city. John Bard, a 53-year-old Kent resident, has been circulating the petition, but said he did not start it. He has personally collected about 300 signatures.

At yesterday’s meeting, the committee agreed to amend the reciprocity tax to keep it at 100 percent. The Kent City Council still has to vote on it at Wednesday’s meeting.

Bard said the council’s actions may influence some residents to not sign the petition but said the recall efforts will continue.

“There are a lot of reasons people may sign the petition,” Bard said. “There is a lot of animosity out there.”

He added that one woman decided to sign the petition because she didn’t want the city to charge her for repairing the sidewalk outside her house.

The petition is attempting to recall all City Council members except at-large councilman Robin Turner and Ward 4 councilman John Kuhar. Neither Turner nor Kuhar voted for the decreased income tax reciprocity.

In order for a ward councilman to be recalled, the number of signatures on the petition must be equal to 20 percent of the number of votes cast in their wards in the previous election. A copy of the petition must also be filed with the City Council clerk.

Ward 2 councilman Jack Amrhein said while petitions and recalls are part of the democratic process, he said “it opens a big can of worms” and can be divisive. He said he believes this is what happened when Streetsboro recalled a number of city officials a few years back.

“You worry any time you don’t vote the way people want you to, ‘Are they going to recall you?'” Amrhein said.

Bard said he worries this recall petition could become divisive, but said he thinks it is necessary because councilmen weren’t paying attention to resident’s concerns.

“I don’t want it to polarize the community,” he said. “But time after time the councilmen wouldn’t listen. I chose to try something different.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kristen Kotz at [email protected].