Residents launch effort to recall Loveland's mayor
LOVELAND, Ohio (WKRC) - Opponents of Loveland's mayor delivered more than 2,000 signatures to the Hamilton Co. Board of Election Friday in the hope of launching a recall election in November.
Critics of Mayor Mark Fitzgerald, who's in the middle of his third term, say they don't believe city council is as transparent as it should be.
Recall supporters cite plans to raze city hall and build a new one. Some residents said they only learned of the plans after seeing renderings appear on local website.
"There's a lack of inclusion on his key committees that he has handpicked and has really stacked those committees to concentrate his power more than should be the case," said Mary Ann Lynn, who helped collect signatures for the recall effort.
Mayor Fitzgerald said on Friday that he has no more power than any other member of council and that his duties are largely ceremonial. He said that the city manager runs the city and that he was skeptical of the people who launched the recall effort.
"It's just part of this entirely bogus vendetta," Mayor Fitzgerald said on Friday by phone. "Why they have latched onto this, I can only speculate, that it's driven by people who don't like me politically."
Some residents said that during the last election in 2015, they didn't know about a lawsuit involving Fitzgerald that was filed in 2014 when he was the city administrator in North College Hill.
Fitzgerald was accused of trying to pad his pension by including his wife's salary as economic development director with his salary. He was also accused of awarding a contract to a friend over the objection of city council.
The suit was settled earlier this year. Fitzgerald retired and says that he was cleared of wrongdoing. He said the lawsuit was political.
"Just because someone files a lawsuit and says you didn't do something right doesn't mean that's the case," Mayor Fitzgerald said.
Possible candidate Neal Oury disputes that he is motivated to recall Fitzgerald by a personal vendetta. He plans to run in the recall election.
"I don't have anything personally against him except for how he treats our citizens in this room right here at city hall. He can belittle people," Oury said.
The Board of Elections will have 10 days to certify the signatures. If the signatures are verified, Mayor Fitzgerald will have five days to resign or face a recall election November 7.
The mayor in Loveland is not elected by voters. He or she is selected by city council after being elected to council.