New Huber Heights group seeks removal of councilwoman

A Huber Heights group has filed paperwork to begin circulating a petition to remove Councilwoman Janell Smith from office.

The group — named Huber Heights Ward 2 United for a Better Tomorrow PAC — is organized as a political action committee, according a the letter from the group’s organizers to the city clerk of council.

The organizers are Cindie Bonner, Thomas Laugle, Walter Sturgeon, Robert Pantall and treasurer Melissa Pantall.

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“We feel that over the course of her term, Councilwoman Smith has consistently displayed behavior that calls into question her abilities to effectively serve and fairly represent her constituents in Ward 2,” the group said in a statement. “While many of her antics caused concern and led to promoting an environment of division in the Huber Heights community, it was her latest actions that led to many residents feeling they have been left with no other choice than to initiate actions of a recall.”

That latest action, the group said, is related to Smith’s opposition of the city’s water pressure project. The group said Smith posted on Facebook that city staff members told her the pressure fix “will not affect” water pressure, but then refused to say who on staff made the comments to her.

“Because of Councilwoman Smith’s refusal, our city council felt no choice but to seek a third party review of the project, which is currently under delay as a result,” the petitioners said. “Our committee’s concern is Councilwoman Smith withheld crucial information from the rest of city council that could have affected the approval of $2.4 million of taxpayer money.”

Smith said she believes the group disagrees with her stances on a number of issues, including water softening. She defended her position against the water pressure project and said the group is targeting her at a “not very kind” time after her mother’s death.

“This recall effort will not deter me from working diligently to advance the principles of open government and responsible administration that my constituents rightfully expect,” Smith said in a statement. “I will continue to vigorously defend my work on behalf of Ward 2 residents and the city as a whole.”

Smith was elected in 2015 and began her term on Jan. 1, 2016. Her term expires Dec. 31, 2019.

To place a recall on the November ballot, the PAC must collect signatures equal to at least 15 percent of the total number of votes cast in Ward 2 in the last gubernatorial election. If the recall makes the ballot, Smith could be removed by majority vote.

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