Council member must be in office for six months before filing
The Denton city secretary has ruled a petition to recall District 4 council member Joey Hawkins insufficient, according to a city press release issued Thursday afternoon, while efforts to recall council member Kevin Roden continue.
The petition to recall Hawkins, which had 125 signatures, was filed too early. The city charter does not allow voters to submit a recall petition until a council member has served six months.
Hawkins was elected May 9 and sworn in May 19. According to city officials, the six-month clock — 180 days — began May 19, making the Nov. 12 petition filing at least two days’ premature.
District 4 resident Elida Tamez, who was one of the five people who circulated the petition, said the neighbors were undeterred.
The city charter provides them the opportunity to resubmit the recall.
“We’ll go out again,” Tamez said.
Whether the same people will circulate a new petition or new people will circulate the original petition hasn’t been determined, she said. They are waiting for clarification from the city secretary’s office on how to resubmit.
Hawkins was unopposed in his election, which means it will take only 76 signatures to force a recall election in May.
The original petition listed three grievances against Hawkins: being inaccessible to his constituents, failing to support government transparency and weakening local rules for drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Many of the signatures on the original petition listed addresses in the Denia area neighborhoods, near the University of North Texas. The Denton Record-Chronicle obtained a copy of the original petition through an open records request.
Hawkins lives in Southridge, near Golden Triangle Mall.
Hawkins said he respects the process that the petitioners are following. He expects another petition to be filed. Although the charter gives him an opportunity to resign, Hawkins said he won’t quit. He still plans to launch a campaign with his supporters.
“They [his supporters] think this is despicable,” Hawkins said. “I’m going to win.”
Residents in District 1 met Wednesday night and agreed to launch a recall petition campaign against Roden, their council representative, according to Doyle Cain, who led the meeting.
Cain said that petition will contain the same grievances against Roden as those against Hawkins. The group has 45 days to collect signatures. The city charter does not allow the petition to contain signatures more than 45 days old.
Roden, who is in Florida on business this week, said a few of his supporters attended the meeting and told him at least one person pushing the recall, Bob Clifton, doesn’t live in Denton.
“I say, ‘Bring it on,’” Roden said.
The Denton City Council has three at-large members and four members who represent specific areas of the city. The at-large members — council members Dalton Gregory and Greg Johnson along with Mayor Chris Watts — are up for election in May.
If the petitioners are successful in forcing the recall of Roden, who represents central Denton, and Hawkins, who represents southern Denton, those elections also would be on the ballot in May.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.