John Rust said he is considering starting the process, which he said is “very hard to do.”
“The process is very difficult for a reason I agree with,” he said. “It should be hard to do this.”
Rust said he wants to recall Council members Bill Bryan, Bob Rush, John Beresford, Jack Goodwin and Hooky Huffman, all of whom voted at a called council meeting Thursday to override Mayor Gene Hobgood’s veto of a fire district ordinance.
The council overruled the mayor’s decision, despite pleas and requests from senior citizens to hold off on implementing the veto.
Opponents of the ordinance believe the proposed tax that would be implemented would eat away at their senior homestead exemption.
Rust said if he wants to go through with the recall, he has to get 100 signatures within the 15-day time period he formally launches the campaign.
He then has to get signatures of the 30 percent of the number of registered voters in the city at the time of the most recent election in order to have a recall.
“The army has to be ready to march and march quickly during a fairly narrow time frame,” he added.
As for the council members threatened with recall, Huffman said he “doesn’t make much of the effort at all” and noted emotion could be a factor in Rust’s decision.
Bryan said “that was his right” to launch a petition.
For Rush, he said he believed Rust is “doing the mayor’s bidding” with his recall efforts.
Beresford had the strongest words against Rust’s actions.
Beresford said Rust was “absolutely right” that the city cannot do away with the exemptions without a vote by the electorate.
However, Beresford noted that is not what the city is doing with the creation of the tax district.
He said the city is well within its right to come up with an additional stream of revenue with the tax district, which he said would remain separate from the senior homestead exemption.
He also noted Rust’s petition will be a big task for the citizens to undertake, adding it’s going to cost a lot of money to “get it pulled off.”
Beresford said that while he represents Canton’s senior citizens, he also represents other residents who don’t get homestead exemptions or other tax breaks and “who also have a say in this, too.”
“Will I be threatened every time with a recall if I don’t vote a way a small amount of individuals want me to?” he asked.
Rust said it’s “wrong” for the council to approve the ordinance, which he said would in fact do away with the exemption.
He added the exemption was put into place by referendum and, if the city wants to do away with it, they need to hold a referendum to do so instead of creating the district.
“That’s not the way you’re supposed to do it,” he added, noting what the council was doing could be classified as “subterfuge.”