Affidavits submitted to city for recall petition; two affidavits dismissed

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The City of Alice received 10 affidavits this week, requesting a petition to recall Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez.

The city administration received the affidavits just before the close of business Tuesday, officials said.

City Secretary Rene Marshall said Wednesday the city requires that 10 affidavits be presented requesting a recall petition for an elected official.

That petition is then given to the requesters, who must obtain signatures of at least five percent of the number of voters who voted in the last election.

Once those signatures are received and verified by the city, a recall election can be held, Marshall said.

Nearly 3,000 voters participated in the May 2007 city election, which would mean that only 150 signatures would be needed to force a recall election.

Two of the affidavits that were submitted were rejected by the city Wednesday, however, when the individuals who submitted them were found to either not be residents of the city or to not be registered voters.

City Attorney Joe Torres said the two individuals who have been disqualified were Lamar Rodriguez and Zulema Chapa.

The names of the other eight individuals were not immediately released by the city Wednesday or Thursday.

Marshall and Torres said they were seeking guidance from the Texas Secretary of State on whether they would be required to reject all 10 affidavits or just the two that had been disqualified, and said further actions on the requests would not take place until that answer is received. On Wednesday, Chapa said she had asked for the recall because of the "Puddles," incident, in which the mayor allegedly stole a neighbor's dog.

The mayor's actions at that time, as well as her refusal to address the matter with the family or the public, has caused Chapa to lose faith in the mayor's ability to serve the city, she said.

"We want the people to know how she is," Chapa said. "We don't trust her anymore for anything to do with the city."

Commenting on the recall petition Wednesday, Saenz-Lopez said it was not unexpected.

"I'm not surprised, I figured they would pursue something like this," Saenz-Lopez said.

When asked if she had considered stepping down before the recall petition is circulated, Saenz-Lopez said she had no plans to voluntarily leave office.

"There's no chance of that," Saenz-Lopez said. "I'm going to stay focused on running the business of the city until the voters decide otherwise."