KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mayor Mark Funkhouser said Monday he would fight an effort to oust him after a group submitted what it says are enough signatures to force a recall election.
The city clerk's office opened on Memorial Day for the recall group to submit a second batch of petitions, which its organizers estimated contained about 13,000 signatures.
Earlier this month, group members submitted 7,459 valid signatures and received 10 more days to attempt to collect the required 16,950 signatures needed to force a recall election.
Opponents of Funkhouser said he should be recalled because his wife's activities in his office violated the city's volunteer ordinance and nepotism rules.
"The people of Kansas City have spoken loudly and clearly and with a very firm voice, that this mayor has to go," Harris Wilder, the group's spokesman, said Monday.
Funkhouser said he will defeat any recall effort.
"If anything, I haven't fought hard enough. I haven't been aggressive enough. I'm only going to ramp it up," Funkhouser said Monday in one of several interviews with local media.
Election officials have until June 1 to verify the names to make sure they are registered voters. The issue would go before voters in August or November if enough signatures were collected.
Funkhouser has been criticized heavily since taking office in May 2007, particularly after he unknowingly appointed a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, an anti-illegal immigration group, to the city parks board.
The move upset some national civil rights groups and led them to pull their conventions from the city of 450,000.
Then in November 2008, he sued the council after it enacted an ordinance that keeps his wife, Gloria Squitiro, from volunteering in his office.
Squitiro, a former birthing coach, had come under fire for her brashness and was at the center of a lawsuit that included among its claims that she called a former aide, who is black, "Mammy."
Funkhouser has said "Mammy" wasn't a racial slur because Squitiro, who is white, "puts an 'e' on virtually everything" as a form of endearment.
In depositions for the aide's harassment and discrimination lawsuit, people described Squitiro as foul-mouthed and said she twice lit dried sage to rid the office of evil spirits.
With his wife banned from working at his city office, Funkhouser is now holding his weekly staff meetings at the downtown public library.
Funkhouser would be allowed to run in a recall election. The top two vote-getters would advance to a runoff if no candidate received 50 percent of the vote.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.