An effort by 23 residents to gather support for a recall election to recall Mayor John Ackermann has failed.
“I don't think it will happen,” said two-year Keene resident Liesl Hoover, spokeswoman for the Petitioners Committee to Recall Mayor John Ackermann. “We're finding that people want him recalled but they don't want to sign their names to a list.”
The committee had until 5 p.m. Friday to gather the signatures of 15 percent of the city's registered voters, as per the city charter. There are about 2,832 registered voters in Keene, city secretary Keesha Lay said.
“They need about 425 valid signatures,” Lay said.
The committee will regroup and may try again at a later date, Hoover said.
“We're not going to stop. People want this to happen,” she said.
The recall effort began when 23 residents — all registered voters — filed an affidavit July 9 at City Hall indicating they would serve as the Petitioners Committee in an effort to recall Ackermann, who was notified in writing by Lay of the filing of the affidavit, per city charter, Lay said.
Committee members are responsible for preparing, printing and circulating a petition to force a recall election, per the city charter.
Each page of the petition must have an affidavit attached to it stating the circulator witnessed the signing by each person who signs it, the charter says.
Lay would have had 10 days from Friday to verify the signatures and determine their validity, she said.
All signers of the petition must declare they are registered voters who live in Keene, the charter says.
According to photocopies of the Registered Voters of Keene Affidavit of Petitioners Committee to Recall Mayor John Ackermann, provided to the Keene Star in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, residents who signed the petition, and thus are members of the Petitioners Committee, are Chad Aden, Terri Aden, Kenneth Bodine, Laura Bodine, Hal Chesney, Tim Hagele, Liesl Hoover, Randy Hoover, Dena Howerton, Dwayne Howerton, Carmen Mirola, Rick Neighbors, Edna Yanez-Perez, Ruben Perez, Dan Roberts, Carlos Valladares, Christine Weis, Donna Wilson, Terri Wood, Edgar Yanez, Estela Yanez, and Laura Yanez.
If the Petitions Committee would have gathered the required number of signatures, Lay, the city secretary, had 10 days from Friday to “complete a certificate of sufficiency or insufficiency” the city charter says.
However, even if the certificate is sufficient, the charter is unclear as to when a recall election must be held.
“We're not sure because the charter doesn't say,” Lay said. “If a sufficient recall petition is filed, a recall election will be held pursuant to the Texas Election Code,” she said.
That would mean the recall election would be held during the city election Nov. 5, Lay said.
An official removed from office by recall election cannot serve in an elective office for five years following the date of the election at which he or she was removed from office, the charter says.
The recall attempt was the third time since August 2009 that residents have sought to remove a mayor and council members.
On Aug. 4, 2009, a petitioners committee formed in an effort to recall Councilmen Robert Bischoff and James Coleman.
Coleman resigned Aug. 13 and the effort to recall Bischoff never materialized.
On Jan. 25, 2010, the effort of about 29 residents to recall then Mayor Roy Robinson and councilmen Eddie Kirkpatrick and Robert Bischoff was rebuffed because the group failed to meet requirements of the City Charter.
“Based on my review, the documents you provided do not meet the requirements,” Lay wrote in a Jan. 25 letter to petitioner Dan Roberts.
The documents did not meet the requirements because they did not have the necessary minimum of 20 registered voters, were not accompanied by a sworn affidavit stating the 20 registered voters would constitute a petitioners committee, and the petitions did not have an address to which all notices to the petitioner committee could be sent, Lay said.
Most of the signers were from newly annexed areas of CR 805-B, CR 318 and FM 3136.