Godwin recall effort

Councilman Shawn Godwin (District Five)

Sharon Komanecky’s application for recall petition not yet verified

An application for a recall petition for Blackshear Councilman Shawn Godwin (District Five) has been filed, but not yet verified.

Pierce County Board of Elections had until the close of business yesterday, Tuesday, August 11, to complete the verification process and issue a recall petition, but the application had not been verified before The Times’ press deadline. See next week’s issue for further coverage.

The application was issued to District Five resident Sharon Komanecky, Wednesday, July 22. Komanecky procured the needed signatures  — representing 10 percent of the registered voters at the time of Godwin’s last election in November 2019  — and filed the application last Tuesday, August 4, ahead of her 15-day deadline Friday, August 7.

“I believe it is in the best interest of my district and the City of Blackshear to pursue a recall based on the actions of the city council since January. These actions have all been well documented and reported,” Komanecky told The Times. “In gathering the signatures required for the application to recall, it is evident there is extensive support from district five to proceed with the process if the application is approved by the Board of Elections Office.”

Komanecky has lived in Godwin’s district for 12 years.

According to the application, Komanecky and those who sponsor the effort support recall on the grounds Godwin: “has participated in unlawful attempts to conduct city council meetings in violation of the Georgia Open Records Act; voted for and supported adding agenda items of significant public interest without providing notice to the public; denied citizens access to social media pages where he represented himself as a public official; censored content on social media that was critical of his actions; made knowingly false and/or derogatory comments about other public officials; failed to perform duties when appointed to certain committee(s); conducted himself in a manner that gives reasonable basis for the impression that a person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of official acts.”

Komanecky’s application was signed by 33 District Five residents. Board of Elections Superintendent Leah Ritch had five days from the application filing date to verify all persons who signed the application are, in fact, residents of District Five and were registered to vote when Godwin was last elected to serve on city council.

Ritch confirmed last week Komanecky had met the required number of signatures, but the application will not be valid unless 30 of those individuals meet the state’s verification requirement.

“They met the number … if they all check out,” Ritch reported.

State law also requires the public official facing recall be notified throughout the process. Ritch confirmed Godwin was notified when the application was issued last month, and when it was filed. She’ll notify him when it is verified as well.

“I’m going to let him know every step of the way,” Ritch says.  

Godwin had four days from the time Komanecky’s application was turned in to appeal before Superior Court.

State law reads: “Within four days after the application is submitted for verification, the public officer sought to be recalled may petition the Superior Court in his county of residence to review the sufficiency of the grounds for recall.”  (OCGA 21-4-6a).

Godwin could not be reached by The Times for comment on the matter last week.

What happens next?

If Komanecky’s application for a recall petition is verified, she’ll have 30 days from the time Ritch issues the petition to procure signatures totaling 30 percent of the registered voters for District Five, approximately 89 signatures. Ritch will have to verify those signatures by the same standards used for the application sponsors in order to certify the petition.

After a recall petition is certified, the elections superintendent has 10 days to call an election for recall. Should Godwin be recalled from office by a majority vote of District Five residents, Ritch will then be tasked with calling a special election to fill his vacated seat.

The City of Blackshear would be solely responsible for all costs associated with holding both elections, including the mandated three weeks of early voting for both the recall and special election should the process proceed that far.

“It’s going to cost the city two different elections,” Ritch confirmed.  

But, Ritch had no way of estimating a total cost to city taxpayers last week. If the election falls within the timeframe she currently has access to a state technician for programming the new voting machines, her costs will be lower.

 “If it falls within that, I won’t have the big tech fees,” she explained.

Ritch may also consider a paper ballot for the recall and/or special election which could potentially reduce costs, but poll workers would have to be paid for as much as six weeks of early voting and two Election Days.

“We’re looking at six weeks of early voting, two elections and two certifications,” Ritch says.