Scott Cosper, Larry Cole, Billy Workman, Kenny Wells, Juan Rivera, JoAnn Purser, and Ernest Wilkerson, recall, Killeen, Texas (2011)

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An attempt to recall Scott Cosper, Larry Cole, Billy Workman, Kenny Wells, Juan Rivera, JoAnn Purser, and Ernest Wilkerson from their positions as elected officials in the city government of Killeen, Texas, was launched on April 6, 2011.[1] On May 14, 2011, Purser was defeated in a bid for re-election and was therefore not subject to recall. On June 9, 2011, Wilkerson resigned from the city council for personal reasons. All five remaining city councilors were recalled in an election held on November 8, 2011.[2]

The recall resulted in lack of a quorum on the city council. The city will call on a district judge to order a special election to replace the recalled city members. However, the district judge may refuse to call a special election and instead cite the Kileen city charter, which mandates that recall elections be held on the next regularly scheduled election date, which was May 2012.[3]

Background

The recall effort, led by Tax Payers for Responsible and Accountable Governance, was initiated over a council-approved $750,000 severance package paid to former City Manager Connie Green. Recall supporters claim the package was too high, that is $500,000 more than what the contract provided for, and that the decision was not transparent and made in an accountable way.

Petitions with the required 1,050 signatures for each of the 7 members were submitted to Killeen's City Secretary for verification on May 3, 2011.[1] The Killeen City Council approved the election on June 14, 2011 in a 3-2 vote.[4] If the recall is successful it will be the first in Killeen's 130-year history.[5]

Recall organizers filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas on June 17, 2011 claiming Killeen officials were violating citizens' voting rights by scheduling the recall election in November (in line with the state's general elections), as opposed to 30 days after the recall petition was certified (in accordance with the city charter).[6]

A recall opposition group called Citizens for a Prosperous Future was started by former Killeen councilman Dan Corbin to warn citizens against the potential negative consequences of recalling the council. The group, which includes former city council memners, current Mayor Tim Hancock and two former mayors, claims that the recall would cause major disruption in the city government if successful. The group claims it would cause a government shutdown, cost the taxpayers unneeded money, and hurt the city's economic development efforts. Corbin said "I think it would give us a black eye to be without a city government."[7]

Recall organizers

Killeen resident Jonathan Okray is leading the recall effort through the group Tax Payers for Responsible and Accountable Governance. "Okray started the recall petition April 6 in response to the City Council's March 29 decision to pay former City Manager Connie Green $750,000, about $250,000 more than his contract stipulated for a severance package."[1]

Path to the ballot

The ability to force a recall election in Killeen is laid out in the city's charter. According to the recall rules set forth in that charter, a recall election can be mandated if a petition is signed by at least 51% of the total number of votes from the most recent council election. "The most recent was May 9, 2010, when 2,057 votes were cast."[5] The current recall petition needs 1,050 signatures from registered voters for each member.

Petitions with the required 1,050 signatures for each of the 7 members were submitted to Killeen's City Secretary for verification on May 3, 2011. The signatures collected for each member are as follows:[8]

  • Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Cosper: 1467
  • At-Large Councilman Larry Cole: 1336
  • At-Large Councilman Billy Workman: 1279
  • District 1 Councilman Kenny Wells: 1390
  • District 2 Councilman Juan Rivera: 1333
  • District 3 Councilwoman JoAnn Purser: 1452
  • District 4 Councilman Ernest Wilkerson: 1444

Election results

About 700 people cast votes for each district representative position.[2]

  • Percentage of votes to recall Scott Cosper: 75.8%
  • Percentage of votes to recall Larry Cole: 75.8%
  • Percentage of votes to recall Billy Workman: 69.5%
  • Percentage of votes to recall Kenny Wells: 73.2%
  • Percentage of votes to recall Juan Rivera: 61.8%

See also

References