Newport Councilman Peotter submits 1,783 requests to reverse recall petition signatures

Hillary DavisContact Reporter

Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter, who is being targeted for recall, has submitted more than 1,700 signatures from people he says signed the recall petition and now have second thoughts.

Peotter said he dropped off 1,783 signature-withdrawal requests to the city clerk’s office over the past few weeks — mostly in September, before recall organizers submitted 10,688 signatures they had gathered during the past five months in a bid to remove him from office.

Election law says signature-withdrawal requests must be submitted before a recall petition and can be submitted incrementally. Recall supporters had to submit their petition signatures all at once.

City Clerk Leilani Brown confirmed Wednesday that the city had received the signature-withdrawal requests and they were passed on to the Orange County registrar of voters office for verification.

The registrar’s office also is reviewing the recall petition to ensure that signers are registered Newport Beach voters. Recall supporters need at least 8,445 verified signatures, representing 15% of the city’s registered voters, before a recall election can be called.

If all 1,783 cancellation requests are verified, it would leave recall supporters with 8,905 signatures, 460 more than the required verified number.

Peotter pitched the signature withdrawals as a way to “stop the bunny tax,” referring to the cost of a special recall election that could occur as soon as March.

The bunny reference is a callback to the larger-than-life concrete rabbits that inhabit Civic Center Park outside City Hall. Peotter is a longtime critic of the 4-year-old, $140.2-million Civic Center complex, bunnies included.

Recall proponents cite an election cost estimate from the registrar of voters office of $273,000 to $303,000. Peotter has estimated the cost at $500,000, which he said covers city and county staff work, including the time it takes the registrar’s office to verify the petition signatures.

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