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MANY STEPS STILL TO GO IN DADE CITY RECALL EFFORT

The Web site www.recallcamille.com received more than 150 hits Tuesday, just one day after a group of more than 40 people decided to petition for the recall of City Commissioner Camille Hernandez.

Curtis Beebe, the chairman of the group, said that all the site's feedback has been positive.

"I have not received a single response that says we're doing the wrong thing," Beebe said.

Hernandez could not be reached for comment.

A recall could take more than six months. Dade City attorney Charles Waller participated in a 1970s recall of several Zephyrhills officials. He says it's a long process.

"It takes a really upset citizenry to bring this type of action," he said.

To be successful in the recall, the petition requires the signatures of 10 percent, or approximately 340, of Dade City's 3,415 eligible registered voters. In 2006, 652 Dade City residents voted.

The completed petition is then filed with the city clerk who submits it to the Supervisor of Election's Office for verification.

Afterward, the elected official has five days to write a statement of defense. The statement is delivered back to the petitioners.

That's the halfway point.

"It's a two-step process," said Brian Corley, Pasco County's supervisor of elections.

Another petition containing the defense statement is then circulated. It must be signed by 15 percent of eligible registered voters within 60 days. The same people who signed the first petition may sign the second.

Afterward the elected official has five days to formally resign. The resignation, if it happens, is irrevocable. If the official does not resign, a recall election must be held within two months.

If the official resigns before the election, the city will decide how to fill the vacancy.

The Dade City charter says that commissioners can either appoint someone in the interim or opt for a special election, said Karla Owens, the city's attorney.

The replacement would only serve until the end of the original official's term.

Hernandez' term is over in 2010.

Beebe said he might run for Hernandez's seat if she is recalled.

"If we're successful in the recall I might consider running for the vacated seat merely because I don't think it's right that you create a problem and you don't try to fix it," Beebe said.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at (352) 521-6518 or htravis@sptimes.com

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