Rebuttal filed recall petition against La Crosse city council president

Published On: Nov 30 2012 06:15:11 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 30 2012 08:19:49 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Just days after La Crosse's city council president, Audrey Kader, filed papers challenging a recall petition against her, the group behind the recall responded.

The Restore La Crosse Committee filed a rebuttal Friday.

The heart of the controversy is what qualifies as a valid recall petition signature.

Part of a valid signature has to be a residential address and the knowledge the person signing the petition is fully informed, but defining these characteristics is harder than it seems.

In just a matter of days, La Crosse City Clerk Teri Lehrke will begin reviewing all of the documents filed in the recall petition against Kader.

“It's a long process,” said Lehrke. “A lot of days for the challenges, rebuttals, [and] replies to rebuttals, so it might be a little while.”

The bulk of the work has to do with determining if the signatures submitted are valid for a recall.

Lehrke said there's a few things to consider.

“The person signed with the day, the month [and] the year,” said Lehrke. “We check that the certification of the circulator is completed [and] we verify the addresses.”

Kader filed a challenge earlier this week stating the majority of the signatures turned in didn't have valid residential addresses.

“It was the preponderance of the 702 Franciscan Way,” said Kader.

That is the address of the student union at Viterbo University. It’s where the mailboxes of Viterbo students are housed. Students don't actually live in the building.

But Jerry Every and other members of the Restore La Crosse Committee submitted a rebuttal to Kader's challenge saying there's no difference.

“If you yourself wanted to get a ballot to vote ahead of time, you would have to mail a request to the city clerk,” said Every. “If you have a post office box, do you think she would not mail it to you? No. She would mail it to you. So that's a legitimate address.”

Kader also has her doubts about whether the students signing the petition were fully informed.

“I know that the people who circulated the petitions say that they did fully instruct them as to what it was about, but from what I've gathered from some of the students they were not that clear,” said Kader.

“This whole process is just being drawn out,” said Every. “It needn't be. This type of thing is not fun for anybody and it’s not a fun thing to do, but we think it's necessary going forward.”

The final decision will come down to Lehrke and guidance from the official recall manual as well as the government accountability board.

Circulators making sure people signing the petition are fully informed.

As long as the circulator certifies the petition and if there's no documentation proving otherwise the city clerk has no choice but to accept the information.

Kader now has until Monday at 5 p.m. to file a reply to the rebuttal.

The city clerk then has 14 days to review and decide if the signatures are sufficient for a recall election.