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Group aims to recall sheriff despite failure

By Valliant Corley

Wescom Wire Service

GOLD BEACH, Ore. – The same group that failed to collect enough signatures for the recall of Curry County Mark Metcalf last week will try again.

"We're going to be hitting the streets on Monday," said James G. Newman, a member of the committee calling itself "Citizens for an Honest Government." "We've got a copy of the official voter list and we're going to check the names."

The last try fell 139 names short of qualified voters. The 217 sheets contained 1,776 signatures, but not enough were Curry County registered voters.

The recall needed 1,421 signatures, but the Curry County Clerk/Elections Office determined there were only 1,282 valid signatures.

"A lot were because names were printed and dates not put on," Newman said late Tuesday. "We should have caught it."

He said many of those who signed didn't realize they had become inactive voters because they didn't vote in the last presidential election. Newman recommended that anyone in that category who wants to sign the petition should register to vote right away.

"My signature wasn't even valid because I didn't change my address when I moved, even though I requested it from the DMV and they didn't do that," Newman said.

Newman, the chief petitioner, presented the petitions on Feb. 26 and said the group went door-to-door in the weekend storms to get extras, in case some of the signatures were thrown out. They failed to get enough extras.

The elections office had 10 days to verify the signatures were from county residents who were registered to vote. The county was completed last Friday.

Newman said David Darnell, treasurer of the committee, was contacted Friday afternoon and asked when the group would start afresh gathering signatures.

The group has another 90 days to gather signatures, but "our goal is to have it done much before that," Newman said. "We've got more people aboard, we're not battling the holiday season and the weather is getting better."

If the new petition contains enough valid signatures, the elections office will notify the sheriff, giving him five days to resign or submit a statement of justification. The recall election would then be held within 35 days.

Metcalf is scheduled to go on trial July 9 on charges handed up by a Curry County Grand Jury charging him with 11 misdemeanors, including four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, four counts of harassment and three of official misconduct.

Judge Richard L. Barron, presiding judge of the 15th Circuit Court, will hear the case.


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