Time is up for opponents of Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson.
In an effort to unseat Anderson through a public referendum, District 7 residents dumped hundreds of pages of petition signatures at the Hamilton County Election Commission minutes before the noon deadline. They claimed 3,800 names had been submitted in the three-month effort to collect the needed 1,600 signatures.
Verifying those signatures could take days, said election officials who are in the middle of early voting for the Hamilton County primary elections.
About half of the signatures previously submitted were determined to be invalid and a quick glance at Tuesday's signatures revealed multiple pages with names already submitted, said Elections Administrator Kerry Steelman.
"Many, many signatures are already counted people," he said Tuesday afternoon.
At the close of business Tuesday, Anderson confirmed there were about 1,077 verified signatures, more than 500 fewer than the minimum needed to put the question to a public referendum. But he said he believes based on the error rate of signatures so far his opponents will fall short.
"It's basically mathematically impossible that they will hit their target," he said.
District 7 residents believe they have enough signatures.
"There's about 1,400 more [signatures] in there [left to count]," said Charlie Wysong, who is helping head the recall efforts."Everybody worked and I'm just trusting the outcome to the Lord."
Last week, Anderson lambasted his opponents for tactics he said they were using to beef up the petition support, such as getting 7 and 8 year old boys to go door to door to collect signatures.
"I want to condemn this in the strongest possible language -- in civic discourse, manipulating children to advance a hateful political agenda is unacceptable, disgusting, and just plain wrong," Anderson said in a prepared statement.
Wysong referred questions on kids involved in the recall to Gill Shropshire, president of the Alton Park Neighborhood Association. But Shropshire couldn't be reached for comment.
Neither Anderson nor his attorney Stuart James would say if the councilman will go forward with his lawsuit against the election commission, city and state.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at email@example.com or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...