Temple Mayor and City Council recall, Texas (2014)

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An effort to recall Mayor Danny Dunn and council members Judy Morales, Tim Davis, Perry Cloud and Russell Schneider in Temple, Texas from their positions was launched in March 2014.[1] Council member Judy Morales ultimately resigned from her position. The recall effort against the remaining officials did not go to a vote.[2]

Recall proponent arguments

Recall proponent Matilda "Mari" Paul alleged in the notice of recall she filed that the mayor and city council were guilty of "misconduct and malfeasance in office, noncompliance of Section 4.9 of the charter, cronyism, neglect, and clear incompetence and betrayal of public trust." Specific allegations included:[1]

  • "The Council intended to bypass Section 4.9 of the city charter by allowing Morales to be paid $40 an hour by her own consulting firm, not by the county, for no more than 116 hours to work at the Temple HELP Center."
  • "The Council didn’t enforce Section 4.9 of the city charter with Morales’ forfeiture of office as required."
  • "The Council allowed Morales to return to the Council and sanctioned her run for re-election without asking Temple residents."
  • "Council member Schneider violated Section 4.9 of the charter by securing city contracts through his R.T. Schneider Construction Co. and others for financial gain."

Paul said, "The City Council and mayor are so blatant with what they're doing. There's been no accountability for the last four months. I feel like I've been dragged into this, but I don't want to sit back anymore. Residents need to put action behind their words."[1]

Paul is a former city employee, having worked under Morales at the Temple HELP Center. She claimed she was asked to work on Morales' 2011 election campaign during work hours. "When she ran in 2011 she ran illegally, she should not have run and for them to allow her to sit on the City Council ... at this point they're equally as guilty as Judy is and more so," Paul said.[3]

Morales' activities were under investigation by the Bell County Sheriff's Department and Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols in March 2014.[1] On March 12, 2014, Morales was arrested for destroying information, including correspondence related to her 2011 city council campaign.[4]

Amid the controversy surrounding her arrest, Morales announced her resignation from the council on March 20, 2014. "Because this situation has caused dissension and division among the citizens of our community, I want to encourage all citizens to put aside their differences and work together as a community," she said. Morales ultimately denied allegations of impropriety. "I would like to set the record straight on one issue. I have never lied to anyone regarding this situation and I have never taken money belonging to the city council or any organization."[5]

Officials' response

In his initial response to the allegations against Morales, Dunn said, "Those who are critical of Ms. Morales have gone so far as to say the City Council is corrupt and we are allowing her to get away with whatever she wants. I think the Council has been fair in waiting for a decision from Bell County as to how they are going to proceed before we decide what action, if any, will be taken against Ms. Morales."[6]

Regarding the recall effort specifically, Dunn said, "I don't know Ms. Mari Paul and I don't know who is hiding behind her encouraging her or instructing her to take action against the Temple City Council, but they are welcome to contact me anytime on any subject."[6]

On March 17, 2014, after Morales' arrest, Dunn and city council members called on Morales to resign.[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Texas

Paul first filed notice of intent to recall on March 3, 2014. It was unclear precisely how many signatures Paul would need to collect to trigger a recall election for all city council members (the city charter stipulates that signatures equaling 30 percent of all registered voters in each district would be needed). A petition to recall the mayor would have required signatures equaling 30 percent or more of all registered voters in Temple, which means Paul would have needed to gather in excess of 11,100 signatures.[7][8]

On the same day of Morales' arrest, Paul reported that she had so far collected over 500 signatures.[4]

On March 26, 2014, Paul announced that she was ending her efforts to recall the entire city council, but insisted that she might launch efforts against individual council members in the future. Paul also alleged that city officials were deliberately vague in explaining the specific signature requirements. She claimed that in a 17-day period she collected 1,037 signatures.[2]

See also

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