Andrew Quirl plans to hit downtown Stephenville in protest Saturday.

"I'm exercising my First Amendment right," the 34-year-old Stephenville resident said.

He plans to stage a peaceful protest on Election Day, when as many as 800 voters are expected to cast ballots in city elections. Quirl said he will picket the courthouse square, signs in tow.

Quirl said he has the right to share the message with fellow voters and encourage them to vote for "anyone" but Stephenville Mayor Nancy Hunter, who is seeking her third term at the helm of the city council.

Quirl said his issues with Hunter have been fermenting for years.

In July 2008, the council voted to deny a request by Quirl, then owner of Uncle Hoovers Southern Dining, to rezone the property on Lingleville Road where the business was operating to a B-5. The zoning change would have allowed the restaurant to serve alcohol.

At that time, Quirl claimed Hunter told him she would support his request prior to the vote, but she opposed the issue when it was presented to the city council. It was a claim Hunter denied when questioned by the E-T.

"I never said that. What I said was, 'Silence from the mayor is a majority vote,'" Hunter said in 2008. "But in this case, I voted 'no' on the issue regardless of how the others voted."

"That was a bold faced lie on her part," Quirl said Wednesday.

In defending her actions Thursday, Hunter said she stands behind her vote, which was issued during her second meeting as mayor. She said rezoning requests are typically granted to property owners - not renters - and the owner was deceased and the property was for sale at that time. She also said six individuals, including affected property owners, spoke against the request before the council issued a 6:2 vote against it.

"Mayors do not have to vote, but I choose to on controversial issues," Hunter said, adding she was voting in favor of the best use for the property.

During the debate, Quirl said for a restaurant like his to succeed it must be allowed to serve alcohol.

The business closed its doors months after the request was denied.

"I believe I closed the restaurant in December 2008," he said Wednesday.

While that reality cannot be undone, Quirl, who has master's degrees in history and speech and focused on First Amendment law during his studies at the University of Arkansas and University of St. Andrews in Great Britain, said he is proud to stand against what he feels is wrong.

"I am proud to picket for the betterment of my city," he said. "And I encourage anyone who agrees with me to do the same. I will be out at the square all day Saturday. Come out and join me."

Hunter questioned Quirl's motivation.

"Mr. Quirl is a disgruntled businessman who didn't get his way four years ago," she said, "I question why this issue is resurfacing now when I haven't heard from him in years."

According to County Clerk Gwinda Jones, individuals may protest at the polls and even disseminate information opposing them as long as they are at least 100 feet away from every entrance to polling locations.

"If Mr. Quirl would like to protest outside of the courthouse on Election Day, I advise him to bring an umbrella," Hunter said. "There is rain in the forecast."