Eloy Lopez, Linda Guzman-Alaniz, and Michelle Soliz recall, Sinton, Texas (2012)

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An effort to recall Eloy Lopez, Linda Guzman-Alaniz, and Michelle Soliz from their elected positions in the city government of Sinton, Texas, was underway as of September 2012.[1] The recall petitions were judicially invalidated in October 2012.[2] Eloy Lopez is the mayor of Sinton while Linda Guzman-Alaniz and Michelle Soliz are city council members.

Reasons for recall

Recall committee member Kelly Rigotti issued a statement outlining the reasons for recall. The recall targets were accused of being unfamiliar with the city charter, conducting council business outside public meetings in violation of state law, failing to follow an attorney’s advice when they voted to override decisions of two city boards, failing to provide satisfactory reasons for trying to fire the city manager and secretary, promising to replace city employees with friends or family members, acting unprofessionally in council meetings, and voting to hire attorney Juan Perales against the wishes of citizens.[1]

In September 2012, the city council voted 3-2 to fire City Manager Jackie Knox. The three affirmative votes were all from the recall targets. No explanation was given for the firing. Knox said he was fired because Eloy Lopez has a personal vendetta against him. Several longtime city employees said that when Eloy Lopez worked as a city mechanic in the 1990s, he was caught stealing, and Knox fired him. Eloy Lopez said he quit his city job to go to college. Knox said Eloy Lopez worked on personal vehicles on city time and charged hundreds of dollars in auto part purchases to city accounts, and that he allowed Lopez to resign instead of pursuing criminal charges because Lopez was young and had a family.[3]

Path to the ballot

Recall organizers needed to submit 500 signatures for each recall target.[1] On August 28, recall organizers submitted their signatures. City Secretary Betty Wood verified that each petition had more than the minimum number of required valid signatures, meaning a recall election would need to be scheduled.[4]

Legal dispute

After sufficient signatures were verified, a dispute arose in the city over the pending recall election. Recall supporters asked a judge to order an election, while City Attorney Juan Perales filed an injunction asking the judge to refrain from ordering an election. Perales argued that the recall petitions were invalid because they didn't list specific reasons why the officials were being targeted for recall.[4]

In September 2012, the Texas Attorney General ordered that the city of Sinton must make the recall petitions public. The recall targets and City Attorney Juan Perales challenged the validity of the petitions and wanted to examine the signatures. City Secretary Betty Wood referred the matter to the attorney general because the petitions contain the home addresses of law enforcement officers and city employees who faced threats of physical harm because they chose to sign it. Assistant Attorney General Misty Barham said the addresses could be withheld, but the names of those who signed the petition must be made public.[5]

In October 2012, a judge ruled that the recall election could not go forward because twenty signatures on the petition were signed by individuals not on Sinton's Registered Voters List. When these signatures were thrown out, there were no longer sufficient valid signatures to require a recall election.[2]

See also