It's been a long time in the making, a tedious process.

But supporters of a recall effort for Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher say the Benton County Auditor has finished Thursday verifying the necessary number of signatures on the recall petition.

In order for a recall to qualify for a special 'election' the petitioners had to gather enough signees to equal or exceed 25% of the votes the official received in their last election. In this case, Hatcher's opponents had to get 13,937; the Auditor certified 14,325.

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The effort to recall him began last summer, in August Sgt. Jason Erickson said Hatcher intimidated witnesses and other public servants during investigations; tampered with and destroyed evidence, and threatened retaliation against opponents and said witnesses.

There's a total of eight accusations being made against Hatcher, ranging from allegedly illegally stockpiling ammunition belonging to the county, as well as various acts described earlier that pertain to a domestic situation involving his estranged wife.

Opponents say he's run the jail and Sheriff's Department using these kind of tactics, the control of the jail was taken from him months ago.

However, supporters say the charges are politically motivated, and recall supporters are using his marital personal issues as a scapegoat to get him removed. They claim the investigations against Hatcher were improperly carried out; it ended up going to the State Supreme Court. They eventually ruled the recall effort could move forward.

August 3 voters will decide if he will be removed, he is in his fifth year in the position. Even though it will be on a special ballot, there still has to be a majority of voters who vote to remove him. That will remain to be seen.

It is interesting to note that around 2,200 signatures originally on the recall petition were removed because of a variety of improprieties; including some people who were not registered to vote in Benton County.


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