HEALDTON — Two resolutions were grudgingly approved Monday night as a few council members voted yes, “under duress,” to approve recall elections.
Petitions to recall council members Treva Gage and Linda Hill were filed with the city clerk in July, claiming the two women violated the law. However, both answered the petitions saying it was not a willful violation since they were left to run a council meeting in the absence of the city attorney, current city manager and the mayor.
While the resolutions failed several times, the approval on  Monday will now allow an election to take place for the two seats, as city charter intended. Both council members can choose to run for re-election. The election is scheduled for Feb. 14, 2017.
Interim City Manager Brian Scribner said while city charter states a special election must be held within 30 days, the charter is outdated and the state no
longer allows special elections to be held. The earliest the city can have an election is a pre-specified date with the state, which is Feb. 14, he said.
Due to the resolutions not being approved the first two times around, with the deciding vote resting on the shoulders of Councilman Manuel Davila, Healdton residents then filed petition to recall him as a council member, as well.
The statement of recall states Davila “willfully acted to violate the electoral rights of the citizens of Healdton and the city codes by not listening to the recommendation of the city attorney on two separate occasions.”
Davila responded, saying he did not willfully act to violate neither the citizens’ electoral rights, nor the city codes. In addition, he said the city clerk and city attorney failed to follow sections of the city charter by “certifying and validating the recall petitions filed with the city in August.”
“The petitions clearly did not meet the charter requirements regarding the preparation and circulation of a recall petition. I felt the need to express my disapproval of their decision to disregard City Charter by voting ‘No’ on the resolution on Sept. 8 and Sept. 19, which was within the time period required by charter,” Davila wrote.
Gage spoke about the circulation of the recall petition during previous city council meetings saying several people who signed the petition were misinformed about what they were signing.
“My vote has always been and will continue to be in the best interest of all the citizens of Healdton, not just the select few attempting to run this council to further their own personal agendas,” Davila’s answer to the recall petition states.
Since the initial recall petition has been filed and Davila’s answer has been filed, residents are now required to get 92 signatures to take to city council in order for another resolution to be presented to the council.
Scribner said depending on when, or if, the signatures are acquired and if a resolution is approved on time, Davila’s seat may or may not be on the ballot during the same election for Hill and Gage’s seats.
The cost of having the elections will come out of the taxpayer’s pockets, though. Some of the costs involved include printing ballots, paying poll workers, having inspectors pick up the election information and some other minimal costs, such as postage for absentee ballots, Carter County Election Board Secretery Diane Hall said.
Hall said the two inspectors make $97 each and it is $87 per poll worker, of which there would be four for Healdton’s precinct.