Judge James Nutt said he failed to see the argument brought before the court by the city that the lawsuit by the citizens group is a sham.
The Citizens Group submitted around 8,600 petitions in November to recall the three city council members who voted to fire City Manager Jonathan Evans in September. Per law, petitions have to be collected within a 30-day time frame.
The attorney for the city, John Whittles, argued the petitions were handed out around Oct. 16 and submitted to the city on Nov. 14. Some of the petitions had wrong dates on them, going back as far as 2016, long before the city manager was fired.
Whittles said the 19 petitions with wrong dates on them were a simple mistake but City Attorney Andrew DeGraffenreidt took those dates at face value, telling the Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, to count the petitions based on those dates.
Bucher did and concluded that only two petitions were valid based on those dates.
That’s when the citizens group filed a lawsuit against the city and Bucher.
Bucher said on Wednesday after the hearing, she’s just counting the petitions based on what the city tells her to count.
“It was really up to the city,” Bucher said. :I had no knowledge of when this committee was established, when these petitions were circulated, when the city manager was fired. I don’t know any of that.”
The judge allowed the case to move forward but he voiced his concerns, saying he’s not sure if he can intervene in the case.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Whittles said after the hearing.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, two of the five Riviera Beach city council seats are up for election.
Chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson and Councilwoman Dawn Pardo are up for election. Pardo is one of the three city council members who voted to fire Evans, and is part of the recall effort.