Citing turmoil at City Hall a group of Douglas residents have launched an effort to recall Mayor Robert Uribe.
Tanya Duarte is spearheading the effort and has a committee of volunteers assisting her in gathering the minimum 569 signatures required to trigger a recall election.
“Our goal is to double what’s needed,” she said of the signatures.
This is a zero financed recall, she said adding she and her volunteers are not buying signs, pens, paper, anything that has to do with the recall. They are using whatever materials they have at their disposal.
Duarte said the recall effort has been a long time coming. She admits she voted for Mayor Uribe in the last election and defended him after he was elected.
“I thought (at first) we needed to give him a chance,” she said. “At the beginning he seemed very humble and very much about Douglas. As time has progressed it became more about Uribe and not so much about Douglas and the transparency of how the government runs and more about him, his ego and promoting himself.”
“It’s a direct lack of professional behavior by the mayor,” Duarte said. “Myself and other volunteers have had direct verbal and written attacks against ourselves and our families due to this recall effort by people who are close affiliates of the mayor.”
She said the mayor is fully aware of these attacks as some of them are on his own Facebook posts.
“This just makes my conviction stronger that this is the right thing to do,” she said. “These attacks are not what our community is about. Facebook messages from people in New York or Glendale attempting to intimidate us are not going to work.”
Duarte said the reasons listed for the recall are, “failure to follow city charter in regards to agenda requests from three council members as noted in Article 2, Section 15 of the Douglas City Charter and causing division amongst city employees, the city council and the city residents with the council thereby impacting the overall operation of the city as well as creating a negative image for the community and a lack of trust between our community and city administration.”
But one of the main reasons she started the recall was because of the way city employees were being treated, she said.
“Our city employees work hard and are very dedicated to our community,” Duarte said. “We cannot allow them to feel that their livelihood and ability to take care of their families can be vindictively torn from them for no reason. Our city employees and the residents should be able to trust those who are supposed to represent them. Instead, we see fear of the mayor and of what city hall can potentially do to harm people.”
Duarte noted that during a special city council meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17 City Attorney Juan Flores stated that Mayor Uribe did in fact violate the City Charter and that those signatures from the three council members requesting the special meeting were in fact turned in on time.
Duarte said her committee has a candidate ready to challenge Uribe should the recall happen but declined to name this person.
“As soon as I got my packet many people came to me and asked to volunteer; to help gather signatures and do whatever they can to make this community better for our children,” she said.
Duarte has a recall petition for anyone who wants to sign but kindly asks they don’t show up to her place of employment. Omar Estrada, who has a business at the Gadsden Hotel, has a petition available during his business hours. Chubby Flores and retired fire chief Mario Novoa also have recall petitions. Duarte can also be messaged through her Facebook page if there are any questions.
The deadline to get the signatures is May 11. Duarte believes they will have more than enough by then based on the response they have been getting since word got out about the recall.
“One of the best responses we had was immediately after the last council meeting,” she said. “We had our circulators standing in the street and people rushed out the door of City Hall to sign. They were furious.”
Duarte said any registered voter within Douglas can sign the petition. Employers may request employees not sign the petition during working hours but they cannot stop their employees from signing the petition.
Duarte is asking those signing the petitions to please do so in black ink and make sure what you are signing is an actual petition and not a fake.
Once Duarte turns in the petitions, the city clerk will go through and verify all the signatures. Once enough signatures are validated to be from qualified registered voters in Douglas, a date for the recall election will be announced.
The Douglas Dispatch attempted to reach out to Mayor Uribe for a comment on the recall but was unable to leave a message due to his mailbox being full.