Secretary approves recall petition
By LPR Staff
A petition demanding a recall election for Lockhart Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram was declared valid on Monday.
According to City Secretary Connie Ortiz, the petition submitted in late February contained the requisite number of signatures to force the city council to schedule a recall election.
“I went ahead and veri
fied all of the signatures on the petition,” Ortiz said.
Of the 535 signatures submitted with the petition, 477 were valid under the rules of the city”s home rule charter. A total of 402 signatures was required to force the issue before the council.
The petition alleges that Bertram should be recalled because of his participation in a decision to eliminate four positions from the Lockhart Police Department last year. It states that he failed to properly discharge his duties by failing to lend weight to community concerns about the cuts, thereby jeopardizing the safety of the community.
Recall attempts began in October, but a first attempt to petition for a recall election fell short.
Since recall talks began, Bertram has held that the petitions are a personal attack, fueled by individuals with a personal axe to grind against him.
“If making… sound, financially responsible decisions based on sound information is grounds for incompetence, than we have a big problem,” he said in a written statement in October. “This petition is the extreme personal views of a small group.”
Bertram pledged to fight the recall petition.
“I didn”t ask to be elected Mayor so I could cower in the corner at the first sign of a fight,” he said Wednesday morning. “I believe that the charges against me are unfounded, and I intend to pursue legal action.”
Bertram said that he will not request the public hearing allowed for by the city charter, but will instead take action in the District Courts to fight the petition.
However, recall supporters maintain that the petition was based on Bertram”s placement in a leadership position as mayor. They claim that Bertram”s participation in the cuts, along with a decision to limit the ability of the public to speak during a council meeting, rises to the level of ineffective leadership.
The petition alone cannot force an elected official to be removed from office. It is simply a request to put the issue of that official”s removal to a public vote.
Now that the petition has been verified, the city charter demands that the council sets a special election on the “next uniform election date provided by state law.” The next uniform election date will be in May 2006.
Ortiz said she and the city”s attorney have reviewed the city charter and they do not see any language that would allow the council to reject the petition. However, under the charter, if the council fails to set an election, the County Judge will be expected to do so.