By Roger Pugh and Matt Montgomery
A recall petition was filed Tuesday morning with the Piedmont City Clerk to recall Ward Two City Councilman Vernon Woods.
The petition asks that Woods, who is in his second term as Ward 2 councilman, be recalled from his office and a successor be elected to fill his seat. The document maintains that Woods “has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to his electors.”
“In this way, Councilman Woods does not accurately represent the opinions of the electors of his Ward,” the petition states.
To begin the recall process, the City Charter requires at least 25 registered voters in Ward 2 to sign the petition.
The petition submitted Tuesday contained 42 signatures. However, five signatures were crossed through.
City Clerk Jennifer Smith now has five days to validate the signatures and officially notify Woods of the petition. Woods will then have 10 days to respond.
If 25 signatures are validated, and the petition is also validated, those calling for the recall will then have 30 days to gather enough signatures of registered voters equal to 30 percent of the votes cast in the Ward in the last Gubernatorial election.
If the recall effort is successful, the city council will then have to call for a new election for the Ward 2 seat to fill the remainder of Woods’ term.
City Councilman Wade Johnson was ousted in a recall effort last year.
Pam Suttles, who is active in a group opposing the construction of the large wind turbines being proposed to be built near Piedmont, helped spearhead the Woods recall effort.
She said she and other concerned citizens are upset because they believe Woods is working with Apex, the Virginia based company, which wants to erect some 120 large wind turbines between Piedmont and Okarche in a project known as the Kingfisher Wind Farm Project.
“Vernon had told me a couple of weeks ago that he was negotiating with Apex to put turbines back in the city limits,” she said. “They would all be in his ward.”
Suttles said she confirmed with Apex Development Director Kent Dougherty that Apex was in negotiations with Woods to put the turbines back in the City of Piedmont limits.
Piedmont resident and Woods’ next door neighbor Trent Cornman told The Gazette Tuesday that Woods hasn’t spoken to him or his neighbors about this situation.
“He never did call, come over, ask me or anybody else in our ward what we thought about wind turbines,” Cornman said. “He already knows what we think but he never came by before he started doing this behind our backs.”
“They hired me, they can fire me,” said Woods in response to the petition.
“It is amazing what some people will say and what some people will believe,” Woods observed. “I was astounded.” He added.
Woods acknowledged he had had conversations with Apex, but said he was trying to find a solution which would please both the opponents and proponents of the large wind turbines.
He noted that Piedmont ordinances prevent the large turbines within the city limits, but he was concerned that many of the turbines in the Kingfisher Project would be placed just outside the city limits.
“I was working on borders that everyone might accept,” he said.
Woods said Tuesday he has not yet seen the petition, but he currently does not plan to lodge a legal challenge to the petition. However, he said after he is officially notified, he will respond and offer his side to the residents of Ward 2.