By: Sharon Aron Baron
A group of residents has made Broward County history by successfully recalling an elected official by petition.
Tamarac City Clerk Patricia Teufel released certification that the Supervisor of Elections office verified 2,296 signatures to recall Patte Atkins-Grad, 421 more than the 1,875 needed during the final round of the petition process.
“The sweat, sunburn, time and exercise will be worth the effort once we have honest and effective leadership in the District Two Commissioner’s chair again,” said volunteer Walter Morris.
Atkins-Grad, who will be served with the recall, will have five days to resign, or she can wait until a recall election is held in 30 days.
Although Atkins-Grad was found not guilty of eight felony charges, including bribery and unlawful compensation from father and son developers Bruce and Sean Chait, residents didn’t believe or buy her “naive” defense.
Atkins-Grad, who attempted to stop the recall in court and lost, is now appealing that decision.
The recall committee, a bipartisan group of residents, was formed by Alvin Entin and other Tamarac residents in December 2012 before Governor Rick Scott reinstated Atkins-Grad back into office. Residents soon joined in the effort and created a legal petition in which to remove her.
The recall started its first attempt to collect 10 percent of all signatures in District Two in Tamarac back in January and lost by only 18 signatures. They gathered a few hundred more than what was needed. Still, They did not verify each signature before it was turned in, so many voters who claimed they were registered either weren’t registered in the district or weren’t even registered voters.
They tried the first round again and then this final round using the computer expertise of Coral Springs Resident Andrew Ladanowski to help them map and visit registered voters in the area. This enabled them to avoid making the same mistakes again, potentially. After signatures were gathered, they were verified with data from the Supervisor of Elections office to make sure they were confirmed as registered.
“The success of the recall to remove Patte Atkins-Grad from office gives one a sense of immense accomplishment and pride that democracy, the hard work of so many dedicated and bold people, can put right before wrong. We should all be proud that this system still works,” said volunteer George Stroker. “The people have spoken, Patte Atkins-Grad, so do the right thing and resign.”