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Push to recall mayor of Guyton dropped
Guyton protest
During a July 16 protest in Guyton, a small crowd gathers in opposition to a mask ordinance and other COVID-19 restrictions. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Four hundred eighty-signatures is just not doable.
Andy Harville

GUYTON —  Guyton resident Andy Harville knew it was going to be an uphill climb. It turned out to be steeper than he expected, however.

Harville informed the Herald on Thursday that he has dropped an effort to recall Mayor Russ Deen. He said it would take many more signatures to force another election than he was originally told when he contacted the Effingham County Elections & Registrations office about the matter.

“... I would have to get 487 signatures, which blew my mind because we didn’t have that many people who actually voted at the (last) election,” he said.

Deen, elected mayor last fall, drew the ire of Harville and other residents last month when the Guyton City Council imposed a mask mandate and other restrictions because of COVID-19. Tension heightened a week later when the mayor changed the process for citizen participation in council meetings. 

Harville, who lost a close election to Hursula Pelote for the Post 2 council seat last year, was a central figure in the July 22 meeting as he was removed from the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee without explanation. He previously accused Deen of city charter violations and “misappropriation of funds.”

On July 23 and July 30, a small group of protestors gathered downtown to protest the mask move and the change to citizen participation in meetings. Signatures for a recall were gathered during the July 30 gathering.

Harville said he performed a few Google searches about launching a recall election before he got started. 

 “I probably got three or four different answers,” he explained. “One said (signatures from) 30 percent (of registered voters is required) and another said 15 percent. That’s when I decided to go to (the Elections & Registrations office).”

In a Friday email to the Herald, Elections Supervisor Olivia Morgan explained recall procedures.

“... There is an application process that requires 100 signatures or 10 percent of signatures of active registered voters who were registered when Deen was elected,” she wrote. “Then I would have to review the signatures, make sure they are valid. Then my board would determine whether or not the request is valid and where to accept or deny it.

“If it is found valid, then the recall petition would require 30 percent of signatures of the active registered voters who were registered at the Nov. 5, 2019, election.  There were 1,622 active registered voters in the City of Guyton at the November election.”

“Four hundred eighty-signatures is just not doable,” Harville said.