LA MARQUE — On advice from the city attorney, La Marque’s City Council rescinded a recall election for Councilwoman Connie Trube.
A week after approving placing the recall on the Nov. 4 ballot, the council voted unanimously to remove the issue from the ballot at a special-called meeting Monday night.
Last week, City Attorney Ellis Ortego said according to the city charter, the signatures on two petitions calling for a recall of Trube could be added together.
While individually neither petition had enough signatures to force a recall election, combining the petitions brought the total number of verified signatures over the necessary 98 signatures.
Valeri Beverly and Lee Clark led the effort to collect signatures to recall Trube. According to the city clerk, a petition needed to be turned in within 30 days of being checked out.
Beverly checked out a petition form July 3 and turned it in on Aug. 4. Clark checked out a petition on July 7 and turned it in to the city on Aug. 7. While each individual petition came in within 30 days of being checked out, Lee’s petition was turned in 35 days after Beverly’s petition was checked out.
Trube argued last week that by combining the petition, those trying to recall her were being given more than 30 days to collect signatures.
In a prepared statement Monday, Ortego said that after rereading the city charter, he decided the petitions could not be combined.
“Initially I was persuaded by some particular wording in the charter that two petitions could be merged into one petition,” Ortego said.
“Due to the controversy over my initial decision and after a closer review, I determined that the two petitions presented to the city clerk could not be merged as one petition.”
If the second petition had come in within the first petition’s 30-day time period they could have been combined and calling an election “would have been proper,” he said.
Councilman Keith Bell asked the city attorney to clarify what had changed in his legal opinion from last week.
Ortego said he could not point to what language he reexamined or what made him change his mind.
“I doubted myself, and I clarified it for myself, and I stand by my decision,” Ortego said.
Asked by The Daily News to clarify what language in the charter he had reviewed, Ortego said he was embarrassed but would stick to his prepared statement.
He said during the meeting that he was not under any pressure from anyone, and he had not been threatened into making his decision.
Mayor Bobby Hocking said he had asked the city attorney to double check on the validity of the recall on Thursday.
Former Mayor Geraldine Sam questioned whether the council was being blackmailed into rescinding the recall.
After last week’s meeting, Trube had said the recall election would be ugly and said there were ethics violations conducted by other council members she could bring up but did not elaborate.
Trube did not bring up those allegations Monday.
Hocking and Bell both said they were not being threatened or blackmailed into making any decision.
“We followed our city attorney’s advice last week,” Hocking said. “We are following our city attorney’s advice this week.”
Trube thanked her fellow council members for rescinding the recall election.
Beverly, meanwhile, called the situation a “win-win.” Even if the recall election failed, a message was sent “against hatred and bigotry,” she said.
After the meeting, Beverly said she did not know if she would attempt a second recall petition.
Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.