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Crayton opponents go public
Effort to recall councilwoman subsides.

An effort to recall Councilwoman Almeta Crayton has ended, but members of a group of First Ward residents who organized the effort said they will try to ensure she is not re-elected when her term expires next year.

Crayton

Speaking publicly about the recall effort for the first time yesterday, members of the group admitted circulating petitions in late 2006 to remove Crayton from the office she’s held since 1999.

Now, members say they will work to ensure that Crayton is challenged if she runs again for the First Ward council seat.

Glenn Cobbins said he began gathering signatures on recall petitions shortly after a council vote in October over a controversial proposal to build a grocery store and retail shops at Garth Avenue and Sexton Road. He ended the effort, he said, after collecting about 90 signatures and deciding the recall was too "angry."

"I don’t have to destroy her," Cobbins said. "I can just do better for my community."

In a meeting with reporters yesterday outside the Boone County Government Center, the 10-member group complained that Crayton has neglected the First Ward and has not adequately represented her constituents.

Complaints ranged from Crayton’s personal appearance and the inability of some constituents to reach the councilwoman by phone to more serious allegations of ignoring crime and poverty in the central city.

Pat Kelley, who also is vice president of the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, said the group is trying to find a candidate to run for the First Ward seat in 2008.

"We’re going to make sure she is not re-elected," she said.

Crayton, in a telephone interview yesterday before the meeting, called the group’s actions "a witch hunt."

She also said she has hired a lawyer and would consider suing group members for slander.

Crayton voted against the grocery store proposal last year, saying she was threatened the night before the council meeting by John Clark, who has become a mayoral candidate in the April 3 municipal election.

Group members - some wearing "Clark for mayor" buttons - said their recall effort was prompted in part when Crayton apparently changed her mind after Clark’s visit. Group members said they had asked Clark to talk to Crayton, but they also believed she should have voted her conscience.

Members of the group are: Kelley, Cobbins, Rebecca Schedler, John McFarland, Donna Cullimore, Judy Hubbard, Leesha Jones, Atterio Norman, Nikki Norman and Suzanne Bagby.

Several Crayton supporters this morning called the councilwoman a "tireless worker" who often meets with constituents and organizes an annual Christmas toy drive and a free Thanksgiving feast in the First Ward.

"She’s the first representative we’ve ever had that truly represents poor people and people at risk," said Lana Jacobs of homeless shelter St. Francis House.

"She has always been in the community, helping wherever she can," said Lorenzo Lawson, executive director of Youth Empowerment Zone. "She’ll do whatever she can to help out the community."

Marlon Jordan, who often holds protests against racial profiling, has announced plans to run for Crayton’s seat.


Reach Matthew LeBlanc at (573) 815-1720 or mleblanc@tribmail.com.


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