The RECALL ELECTION of 1978 was held to determine whether or not Mayor Dennis Kucinich would be removed from office. The impetus for recall was sparked by the mayor's public firing of Police Chief Richard Hongisto in March 1978. Using the media, Hongisto charged that Kucinich interfered with the operation of the police department, and the mayor in turn accused Hongisto of insubordination. The mayor's opponents, capitalizing on the issue, began circulating petitions for his recall. Although Kucinich had been consistent in his populist philosophy and his support of workingmen's concerns, those petitioning for his removal believed that his aggressiveness and inability to compromise, as well as the youth and inexperience of some of his appointees, impeded his ability to govern the city.
In order to initiate recall it is necessary to submit petitions containing valid signatures representing 20% of the total vote in the last municipal election. When the city council clerk certifies the petitions' validity, the official has 5 days to resign from office, and if he does not, a special election is held. The recall is implemented when a majority of the voters approve. Although the Kucinich recall petitions were some 3,355 signatures short of the required 37,552 when first submitted in May, the proponents had 20 more days to make up the difference, and on 1 June 5,321 additional signatures were obtained. Although Kucinich challenged the petitions' validity in court, Common Pleas Judge John Angelotta ruled against him, and the Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court upheld Angelotta's decision. The petitions were certified and the election was scheduled for 13 Aug. 1978. In a close vote, Kucinich retained his office by 236 votes out of 120,300 cast in the election.