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Recall petition filed on Councilman Wilbanks

WARNER ROBINS — Residents have accused City Councilman Bob Wilbanks of “malfeasance of his conduct” in a petition seeking to begin recall proceedings against him.

The documents, received Friday by Elections Supervisor Vida Rawls, speak to a decision by Wilbanks to vote to prematurely end a seven-day suspension of Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans “with malicious personal interest.” Evans had been suspended by Mayor Chuck Shaheen after an investigation into a harassment complaint by another officer discovered Evans had spoken favorably about mayoral candidate Chuck Chalk and placed signs in his yard supporting Chalk last fall.

Mike Brashear, who served on City Council from September to December 2007 in the District 4 seat currently held by Wilbanks, said Wilbanks’ constituents have lost confidence in his abilities to lead on their behalf.

“Mr. Wilbanks no longer represents his constituents,” said Brashear, who supported Wilbanks in his run for the seat in 2007. “People are tired.”

Brashear said about 180 signatures were collected for the petition. Only 100 were needed.

Wilbanks, reached by phone Friday, said he had not violated any laws, and his vote to end Evans’ suspension was one of five in favor of the move.

“This doesn’t meet the standard for recall under Georgia law,” Wilbanks said. “They admitted here I didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t recall somebody for doing their job.”

He was elected to the council in 2007, receiving 385 votes out of the 637 cast, according to the city’s archived election results.

State elections rules dictate that Rawls has five business days to validate the information on the document. A Superior Court judge could extend that up to 15 business days.

Elections rules state that signatures equaling at least 30 percent of the number of registered voters in the District 4 race in 2007 are needed to further recall efforts. The elections superintendent then has 30 days to verify the signatures on that petition. If certified sufficient, a call for a recall election must be issued within 10 days from the certification, with the election to be held within 30 to 45 days. A majority vote for the recall removes the elected official from office, and a special election is held to fill the vacancy.

If the recall action fails, the law states no further recall petitions can be filed against the same official for six months from the denial date.

Former acting Mayor Henrietta McIntyre, who also served on City Council, said she was on hand for the announcement because she was displeased with how city officials have approached their jobs recently.

“That should send a message to all of them,” she said, sitting outside the City Clerk’s office late Friday morning.

After voicing her displeasure at a recent council meeting, McIntyre said residents began calling and inquiring with her about how to help with the recall. While she can’t take signatures for the campaign because she lives outside Wilbanks’ jurisdiction, “I’ll do anything I can to help.”

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