Petition to recall two Waterville council members fails, deemed “insufficient”

The group behind the movement claims the city misled petitioners
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:42 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - More fallout from the controversial amphitheater project in Waterville.

Some residents are looking for answers after a petition to recall two council members failed.

The group “Not in My Backyard” has long voiced their opposition of plans to build the amphitheater. Their petition was aimed at unseating two council members, Anthony Bruno and John Rozic, who voted in favor of building the amphitheater.

During a council meeting Monday, the city’s administration says the petition did not meet all the requirements.

Waterville Assistant Law Director Kati Tharp said the circulators did not affirm and sign the petition, sign on as a witness to the signatures, indicate how many signatures were on each page, and were missing legal statements in accordance to the Ohio Revised Code.

In a statement to 13abc, a spokesperson for Not in My Backyard said, “Our petition was certified and approved by Clerk of Council John Gochenour and Law Director Phil Dombey with Council’s knowledge prior to our circulation, only for the City to reverse course and claim insufficiency once the petitions were turned in.”

This is in reference to an email exchange between the group and Gochenour. The group had emailed Gochenour:

“Hi, brought it to the city with the two-page changes regarding Bruyno’s recall paperwork. Please, if you could ask Dombey and you to approve asap, that would be great. if it is good to go, please let me know.”

Gochenour replied:

“After reviewing the City Charter and consulting with the Law Director, the City does certify or approve the form or format of any proposed recall or referendum petition.”

Not in My Backyard Group members now claim the city misled the petitioners. Waterville Mayor Timothy Pedro tells 13abc they misunderstood the email.

“At no time did our administrator approve those petitions; if you read the email again he states something like he would review them and decide on them once they come into council; that was not an approval process,” said Pedro.

“When someone takes on an initiative like this, you’ve got to look at the code, the municipal code, and the Ohio revised code, and you have to follow the process, and that’s what council is doing... following the process,” Pedro continued.

During Monday night’s meeting, a spokesperson for Not in My Backyard expressed the group does plan to resubmit the recall petition against Bruno and Rozic.

13abc reached out to Bruno and Rozic, but they did not comment.

As for plans for the Amphitheater, a decision on if the plans will be up to the voters is expected from the Lucas County Board of Elections within the next month.

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