BATON ROUGE, La. -- The stroke of a pen started the 180-day countdown in the effort to recall the St. Tammany Parish Coroner.
Good-government advocate group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany (CCST) got the Secretary of State's stamp of approval in Baton Rouge Wednesday. Now the goal is to get a third of the Northshore parish's registered voters, almost 54,000 people, to sign as well to get a recall election on the ballot.
"It's incumbent upon us to really push and get the turnout," said CCST Member Kort Hutchison.
"We've been preparing for quite some time to do this so I think we are very excited about having everything in place and feeling like we can accomplish our goals," said CCST President Rick Franzo.
The group spearheaded the effort following allegations of overspending by Dr. Peter Galvan, including credit card misuse, excessive salaries and questionable vacation time. The parish council and parish president have asked Galvan to resign, with no response, while the FBI and the state legislative auditor's office investigate his office. CCST says it's now up to taxpayers to stand up for themselves.
“This petition has nothing to do with either guilt or innocence on the part of the coroner," Hutchison said.
"All this petition does is give the taxpayers the opportunity to either keep Mr. Galvan in office or fire him," said Franzo.
If the group gets all the signatures they need, they have to turn the paperwork in to the Registrar of Voters Office in St. Tammany for verification, before it returns to the Secretary of State's office to confirm a recall election. That deadline is November 12.
An official signature kick-off will be held Saturday in Slidell, though some elected officials will sign Tuesday. The Concerned Citizens group will post their planned signing locations on their Facebook page.
There was no response from the coroner’s office when asked for comment for this story.