FULL STORY: Recall Notices For Mayor, City Representatives Filed
POSTED: Monday, July 18, 2011 - 5:26pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 3:58pm
EL PASO - Mayor Cook's days at city hall may be numbered; the same goes for representatives Steve Ortega and Susie Byrd. At least, that's what one group is hoping.
Today, dozens of people signed a petition to yank them out of office after they overturned a voter-approved ordinance stripping city-employed domestic partners of their health benefits.
"The turnout is about 4 times as big as when we did the traditional family values ordinance," said Pastor Tom Brown.
Last month, council voted to reverse the November vote.
"To go through the expense of number one the recall election and then number two a special election to replace me if the recall is successful, then that's not a good use of taxpayer money," Mayor Cook said. He added that the recall is a moot point since he terms out in 2013.
Representative Steve Ortega stands by his vote. He says the ordinance was ambiguously worded and affected more people than was intended.
"I look at myself in the mirror every morning and I'm completely happy with the vote I took on that," Ortega said.
Susie Byrd tells us this group used the recall as a scare tactic, announcing their plans before council even voted on the issue.
"What the voters were asking us to do is to discriminate against gay and lesbian people who are longtime city employees and I do not feel that that's a moral thing to do," Byrd said.
Brown has his fair share of opposition, too. Most recently, a group called Americans United filed a complaint with the IRS, saying Brown has violated tax law by endorsing the recall in his tax-exempt ministry.
Brown maintains he's not in violation of the law because he's not endorsing a candidate. And he's not letting it get in his way.
"It's a big feat to get all these signatures, that's why no one has ever succeeded before," he said.
To get the recall measure on the next ballot, they need to collect almost 7,000 signatures for Mayor Cook's petition, and around 700 are needed for both Ortega and Byrd's petitions.
EL PASO - This morning several members of the community filed a notice that they will be organizing a petition to recall Mayor John Cook and city representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega.
The group, including pastor Tom Brown and his wife Sonia Brown, decided to file the notice after the voter-approved domestic partnership ordinance was reversed.
Voters passed the ordinance, which made city health benefits available only to city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children, in November. Proponents call it upholding traditional family values and saving taxpayer dollars, but opponents say it discriminates against homosexual couples and inadvertently denies benefits to some city retirees. City council voted, with Mayor Cook breaking the tie, to prevent its implementation and reverse the ordinance.
The group filing the notice of the recall petition says Mayor Cook and representatives Byrd and Ortega have gone against the will of the people. They will have sixty days to gather enough signatures to put the recall measure on the ballot.
Coming up tonight we'll talk to the group filing the notice, as well as the mayor and representatives who are at the center of the recall.