Angelic prophesies? Unexpected ousters? A field guide to this month’s landmark recall vote for Overland Mayor Ann Purzner
by Ryan Greis
It didn’t take long for Ann Purzner’s term as mayor of Overland to descend into chaos, but if a determined group of the city’s citizens get their way this month, her reign will be over soon. After a year of political maneuvering and police chief–replacing, the embattled mayor who once called herself an angel faces a recall vote on April 3. Before a ballot is cast, the Current breaks it down for you.
The drama. Try to keep up: In office less than two weeks, Purzner booted Overland Police Chief Jim Herron without permission from the City Council, making good on a post-election promise to replace him and lighting the fuse on a civic pipe bomb. The deposed chief refused to leave—even after Purzner’s new appointee commandeered his desk—and eventually got his job back by court order. Purzner got the last word, though, vetoing a plan to pay Herron’s legal bills. The chief’s lawyer, who got stiffed? City attorney Robert Herman, whom the mayor also unilaterally—and unsuccessfully—tried to bump.
The case. The group that championed the recall wants the mayor bounced for locking out Herron and holding City Council meetings in a space that couldn’t accommodate the large crowds that started showing up when the political circus commenced. (She got slapped with a whopping $1 fine for the latter.) Despite the legal beat-downs, Purzner maintained that she was acting within her authority, prompting some in City Hall to question where exactly she thought she was getting that authority.
The numbers. How’s this for statistically significant? Purzner received 1,116 votes in the mayoral election. A recall petition circulated last fall garnered 3,650 signatures.
If it succeeds? Purzner has said she’d step down if recalled, but don’t expect a graceful exit. This is the same woman who was so anxious to wrest the title from former Mayor Bob Dody that she obtained a court order to take office 11 days early. Purzner would be the first mayor in St. Louis County to be recalled in 25 years and the first in Overland ever, so we’re charting new waters here. Technically she’ll retain her post until the county election board can certify the votes, but after that she’ll have no choice but to vacate. The first opportunity for a supplemental election is August 7, meaning Overland could go mayorless for four months—but given the turmoil of the previous 12, some might argue that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
If it fails? Hell hath no fury like an angel scorned.