Crystal City Clerk certifies recall petition of mayor, 2 council members

The three men have five day to resign or face recall election

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas – The Crystal City City Clerk certified a petition calling for the recall of the mayor and two city council members today, Javier Villalobos, the attorney for one of the petitioners, told KSAT 12. The officials named in the petition, Mayor Ricardo Lopez, Mayor Pro-Tem Rogelio Mata and Councilman Marco Rodriguez, must resign within five days or face a recall election, according to the city charter.

The three all face federal indictments, but the effort to oust them began months before any of their arrests. The petition, which gained more than 1,200 signatures, listed several grievances, including a more than $220,000 price of the contract for the also recently indicted City Attorney/City Manager, James Jonas. The affidavit also says "the majority of the people have lost confidence in the public officials."

The petition took a windy path to this point and required a court order to get over the finish line.

A recall petition normally goes through the city, but this one ended up in court after City Clerk Selina Ramos refused to verify any of the signatures. She contended the petitioners needed more, based on her interpretation of the Crystal City charter.

The charter reads that the petition must be signed "by qualified electors of the city equal in number to at least (51 percent) of the total number of votes cast at the last general municipal election at which councilmen were elected."

The petitioners said that means 51 percent of the voters who showed up. Ramos said it meant 51 percent of the votes cast in all the races combined. Since a single voter can vote in multiple races, that added up to a lot more signatures.

In his ruling Tuesday, the judge sided with the petitioners and ordered Ramos to verify signatures based on the interpretation of the charter as 51 percent of the voters.

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.