Mayor Frederico Pena, the city's first Hispanic chief executive, is asking supporters and opponents alike to unite behind him now that a recall drive has fallen 2,000 signatures short of the number needed to force an election.

"The time for negativism and doubt is past," Pena said Wednesday night. "I urge those who supported the recall and those who opposed it to work together to help make Denver a better place in which to live."A citizens group began the recall drive three months ago, complaining that Pena was vacationing in Mexico last winter while Denver's streets were covered with snow and accusing him of mismanaging city funds and of poor leadership.

Leaders of the Metropolitan Action Committee submitted 21 bundles of petitions Wednesday, but an unofficial count of signatures totaled 36,960, less than the 39,091 needed to force a recall election, said Felicia Muftic of the Denver Election Commission. Signatures still must be checked and certified before a final count is made.

Recall organizers claim the state Constitution grants them an additional 15 days to gather more signatures, but the attorney for the election commission said, in his opinion, the recall was over.