Wisconsin mayor's critics have signatures to force recall

MILWAUKEE Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:01pm EST

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MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Organizers of an effort to recall the mayor of a Wisconsin town who has publicly struggled with alcohol while in office have collected enough signatures to force a special election, a city official said on Wednesday.

Sheboygan City Clerk Susan Richards said recall supporters, who needed to submit 4,100 certified signatures by December 1, had met the numbers slightly ahead of the deadline.

Bob Ryan, a 48-year-old self-described alcoholic, has been under pressure to step down since late July, after he went on a drinking binge in a nearby town and got into a scuffle. The police were called but no charges were filed.

Ryan said he was prepared to mount a vigorous campaign to keep his seat that touts his achievements in business development and creating jobs. He said he has been sober for 130 days and was participating in ongoing treatment.

"This was forced because I had a long weekend in Elkhart Lake," Ryan told Reuters. "It had nothing to do with my job performance. I have taken the high road during this recall process."

The incident in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, this summer was the latest in a series involving the mayor and alcohol.

In September 2009, a widely publicized YouTube video showed the mayor making sexually explicit comments about his sister-in-law while he was at a bar. The cell phone video was released shortly after Angela Payne, the former city human resources director, accused Ryan in a letter of making drunken advances on her at a Sheboygan tavern in July 2009.

The Sheboygan Common Council will meet next week to consider authorizing a recall election. Ryan took office in April 2009, and is serving a four-year term.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Cynthia Johnston)

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