If signatures validated, District 4 could vote yes or no in May
Officials are evaluating the signatures on a petition filed this week to recall District 4 Denton City Council member Joey Hawkins.
Activists submitted 125 signatures on the petition. If 76 of them are found valid, the petition will be considered certified and will trigger a chain of recall events required by the city charter.
First, the city secretary must present the certified petition to the City Council at its next regular meeting, which could come as soon as Tuesday, but it would more likely be on the agenda Dec. 1.
Once the petition is presented, the city charter grants Hawkins seven days to resign his seat. Hawkins told the Denton Record-Chronicle on Thursday he does not intend to resign. Should Hawkins refuse to step down, the City Council must order the recall election and the matter goes before the voters.
Some questions and answers on the process:
Who would vote in the recall?
All the registered voters in District 4, which is primarily southern Denton. If you aren’t sure whether you are a voter in District 4 — or whether your voter registration is current — you can look up your voter information on the Denton County Elections Administration website, www.votedenton.com, then click on “Voter Information” to get the drop-down menu and follow the link to “Voter Lookup.”
Do campaign finance rules and similar campaign laws apply?
The city’s legal department still is researching how state election laws, including campaign finance, apply to recall campaigns, according to city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker. Typically, any money spent by a committee either “for” or “against” the recall petition must be reported to the city secretary’s office in accordance with state law. Hawkins has already stated he intends to run a campaign.
Can the recall election be ordered for any other date than the May uniform election date?
No. Although the city charter gives the City Council a narrow window in which to order the election (no sooner than 30 days, but no longer than 60 days), state election law requires that it be called for the next uniform election day, which is May 7.
Once the petition is certified and the election is called, is Hawkins allowed to vote on city business between now and the election? Is he restricted in his ability to represent District 4 in any way?
He is not restricted in any way.
How will the recall appear on the ballot?
Section 4.14 of the city charter specifies the ballot language: “Shall (name of person) be removed from the City Council by recall?” Below that, in order, are two choices: “Yes” and “No.”
If the recall is ordered, does the charter allow someone else to run for District 4 on May 7?
Should Hawkins lose the recall, can the City Council appoint someone to serve?
Under the charter, the council does not have the option to appoint someone to serve District 4. Nor can the council order a special election any sooner than the next uniform election date. If Hawkins loses his seat to recall, look for the council to call a special election to fill the seat on Nov. 8.
How does the legal quorum change when a council seat is empty from recall?
The legal quorum of the council, by charter, is a majority of its members. Currently, there are seven members and four makes a quorum. With six members, that number wouldn’t change.
What if the City Council fails to order the recall election?
The city charter gives a district judge the authority to order it.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.