Petitioners waited until the last moment Friday to turn in signatures in an effort to recall all City of Neligh elected officials, forcing Antelope County Clerk Lisa Payne to call the Secretary of State's office for direction.
Bernadine Hughes and Merlin Mortinson, both of Neligh, picked up the petitions on July 16 and had 30 days to collect the necessary signatures. They were due Friday, Aug. 14, at 4:30 p.m. Most of the petitions were turned in between 4:20 p.m. and 4:50 p.m.
Payne said she called Ann Kontor at the Secretary of State's office for direction on how to proceed and was told to continue counting.
The recall was against the entire elected governing body of the City of Neligh - Mayor Joe Hartz and City Council members Ted Hughes, Stephanie Wanek, Leonard Miller and Dale Wilkinson.
Petitioners turned in 196 signatures for Ted Hughes, 196 for Dale Wilkinson, 195 for Stephanie Wanek and 191 for Leonard Miller. No signatures were submitted to recall Hartz.
Payne will now have to verify all of the signatures before a special election can be held. She estimated previously that a special election would cost taxpayers roughly $5,000. If that recall election is successful against a majority of the council members, the City would be left without a governing body, which would force a second special election, again at the taxpayers' expense.
According to the original affidavit filed, Hughes and Mortinson began the recall attempt due to “continued support/vote to approve the annexation ordinances has been done with repeated admissions that he/she has no idea what the future costs and revenues will be to the taxpayers of Neligh. This pattern of political conduct is alarming and sets the stage for future harm to the people of Neligh and to the business sector.”
The annexation was officially approved in July, two days before the petitions were even picked up by Hughes and Mortinson.
Recall petition circulators needed 163 signatures to force a recall special election of the city council members and 191 for the mayor.