Judge appointed to hear Ealum Recall - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Judge appointed to hear Ealum Recall

January 31, 2007

Lee County-  A Houston County Judge has been appointed to decide whether a recall effort against Lee County Commissioner Jo Ealum can go forward. The recall stalled when every judge in the third circuit recused themselves from the case. Wednesday the recall group levied new charges against Ealum.

Efforts to recall Lee County Commissioner Jo Ealum came to a screeching halt last month when Ealum petitioned Superior Court challenging whether the reasons behind the recall effort are valid.

"I can assure you that Jo is going to defeat the recall, she's going to stay in office and she going to serve admirably and well," said Darrel Ealum, Jo Ealum's Campaign Manager.

Now Judge Rucker Smith has appointed Houston County Judge L.A. McConnell to hear the case. An Attorney for the recall group, Craig Mathis, spoke with the judge and Ealum's attorney.

"Whether we would do it through letter briefs or whether he wanted to have an oral hearing, the judge said he would do whatever we preferred," said Craig Mathis, Jo's Gotta Go Attorney.

As the recall moves forward, the Jo's Gotta Go campaign levied new charges against Ealum, claiming Ealum had a personal vendetta against Ramon Fajardo who was appointed to the Utility Authority and then had his appointment reconsidered at the last meeting. Fajardo questioned Commissioner Wally Roberts and Morris Leverett who changed their votes.

"I asked them point blank would they support me in staying on the board and they said no it was a political decision that we're making here and we're going to remove you," said Ramon Fajardo, Lee County Utility Authority Appointee.

"I witnessed Mr. Roberts telling Mr. Ramon Fajardo that Jo has supported him and Morris in the past that they were going to support her on this decision to remove Ramon Fajardo from the committee," said Commissioner Dennis Roland.

Ealum's camp called the accusations unfounded and said the effort is just a continuation of the unfair attacks on Ealum.

It will be up to the attorneys to decide if Ealum's case will be heard in open court or through court briefs.

If the Judge finds the recall is valid, the campaign would need another 729 petition signatures to get a recall election. They can change the reasons for the recall on the petition.