The Alice City Council was supposed to decide on the date of the recall election Tuesday night. That was the purposed of their special meeting.

However, a discussion about the possible date of the election quickly turned into a debate between the deadlines on the Alice city charter and those offered on the state’s election code. That debate turned into an argument, which even included mayor Jolene B. Vanover asking police chief Rex Ramon to step in and restore order in the council chambers.

When it was over, the matter still hadn’t been settled. Instead, Yolanda Sosa Moran, Elida Garza and Cynthia Carrasco voted to table the matter and consider it at a future meeting. Moran and Carrasco argued that they had too many unanswered questions about the process to simply set a date Thursday night.

City attorney David Towler said according to the state’s election division, the city would have to include the recall referendum on the state’s Nov. 7 election day. He said only the governor has the authority to allow the city to hold an election at an earlier date in the event of “an emergency” like the lack of a quorum. He said he didn’t believe Alice’s current situation would qualify as an “emergency.” That prompted Vanover to ask if the threat complaint made by former council member Pete Beltran against Garza at Thursday night’s meeting would be cause for an emergency election.

Tower had no answer, but said if the council were to direct him to pose such questions to the governor’s office, he would do so.

Sosa Moran and Garza are the subject of a recall effort led by Alice residents Cindy Loera and Randal Dickens. The two recently submitted to city hall recall petitions with signatures for the two recently-elected council members. The signatures which were validated were presented to the Alice City Council at Thursday night’s meeting. It was then that Towler said according to the city charter, the council should after five days set a date for the recall election.

After some questions by Moran, Towler said that while the city charter says the council should set a date for the recall five days after the presentation of the petitions, the state’s election code says the city has to call for an election at least 78 days prior to the election day. Under those guidelines, the council would actually have until Aug. 21 to call for a Nov. 7 election.

Vanover and Crisp urged the council to move forward and set the Nov. 7 date, and that tabling the issue would be counterproductive.

“We tabled seven of 14 items on the last agenda,” Crisp said. “We called a special meeting just so that we can table this also? We’re not getting business done.”

Carrasco said the council needed more time.

“I don’t see, and correct me if I’m wrong, how this is going to affect city business,” Carrasco said. “I do have questions. I do want clarification, so I would like to have an opportunity.”

Moran agreed.

“I am concerned about some of the questions that have been raised here,” Moran said. “I think it is only right, it is my constitutional right to inquire as to some of the concerns that have been raised here. Again, the date for Nov. 7 is Aug. 21st, so we can certainly come back and explore setting a date at one of our regularly scheduled meetings.”

Vanover took Sosa Moran to task.

“What reason do we have to push back, Mrs. Moran?” Vanover asked. “ I’m asking you a question as mayor to council member. What is the reason for the wait? Just curious. I’m wondering why you want to wait.

“Then why did we set today’s date? Just to waste more taxpayers’ money? Is that why? We were advised by (Towler) to set this meeting just for this purpose. I’m just wondering what is the purpose of not moving forward with city business, and this is city business. We have to keep moving forward is what we all agreed on, and we’re not. We’re going backwards.”

Garza, who earlier in the meeting pointed out that the recall election would cost local taxpayers, then spoke.

“Maybe we’re waiting for their recall,” Garza said, insinuating a recall of others on the council.

Crisp and Vanover said if there is a recall against any other member of the city council, it can be added to the chosen election date.

Towler said that the recall date would have to eventually be set, and that if it wasn’t, he would have to use legal means to set a date.

The council’s next meeting is next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.