City must now have the signatures verified

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The decision of whether to remove Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez from office will soon be in the hands of the voters, after a recall petition with the necessary signatures was submitted to city hall Wednesday.

Standing outside city hall with the petition in hand, Alicia Cavazos and Cecilia Martinez said they had no trouble getting more than 200 signatures on the petition.

"We went to some places that we knew were supporting us," Cavazos said. "They were all in support of what we're doing, and they cannot believe that she has not resigned as mayor."

Only 120 signatures were needed to force a recall election, city officials said.

Cavazos and Martinez began organizing the recall in response to the mayor's actions during the ongoing "Puddles" controversy.

In previous interviews, Saenz-Lopez has repeatedly stated that she will not voluntarily leave office.

City Attorney Joe Torres said Thursday the next step in the process for the city is to have the county elections coordinator verify the signatures are of individuals who are registered to vote and who live in the city.

Those who signed the petition are not required to have voted in the last election, Torres said.

Once the required number of signatures are verified, the city secretary will have four days to present those signatures to the council.

According to the city charter, Saenz-Lopez will then be given two days to voluntarily resign.

If the mayor declines to resign, the council will be required to announce the date for a recall election within five days.

That election must be held within 35 days of the date the council received the verified signatures from the city secretary.

In a written statement, city officials said they will work diligently to ensure the process is carried out in a timely and professional manner.

"The City Manager and Interim Assistant City Manager spoke on the phone this morning with Paul Miles from the Secretary of State's Office concerning City Charter Recall Election Provisions," the statement says.