Petitioners Question DeLeon Recall Petition Process - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/11/07

Petitioners Question DeLeon Recall Petition Process

A recent effort to recall district one Lubbock City Councilwoman Linda DeLeon is raising questions about the recall process and the allegations are flying from both sides. Councilwoman Linda DeLeon is claiming those signatures are from people who were misled into signing. The petitioners, Armando and Naida Gonzales, say this process just has not been fair from the beginning.

The Gonzaleses started gathering the 672 signatures in April. They turned in their recall petition to get Councilwoman DeLeon out of office. But two Friday's ago, City Secretary Becky Garza said the petition had failed by 22 signatures and out of the 672 names, Garza was unable to verify 200 of them as registered voters.

"There were people that had voted for 30 years were eliminated as well. So we know there was a mistake, something happened," said Armando.

The Gonzaleses say they went to the City Secretary's Office to pick up a list of the eliminated names. But the problem was the city had no list to give, just the petition "worksheet" as the city calls it.  

"We could not figure out why they were eliminated from the count. We still don't have any official reason other than the notes on the petition itself," said Armando.

Garza declined to interview with us about what happened, she said she was not ready to talk about it until the recount. But she told us over the phone, they probably should have never handed out their worksheet. When I asked to see a "finalized list" of the eliminated names, the city said they didn't have one to give me.

So who else had the petition worksheet? It is public record, so anyone can get it. Councilwoman DeLeon picked up her own copy last week, the same day as the Gonzaleses.  

"I haven't contacted anybody on the petition. Nobody at all," said DeLeon.

But she told us her family members have contacted some of the petition signers. So we asked Texas Tech law experts about that, they tell us it is not illegal or unethical for DeLeon to contact the folks who signed her recall petition.  

"Do they let them know they're family members of yours when they call at all?" asked NewsChannel 11. 

"They're neighbors. A lot of them know they're my family," answered DeLeon. 

"Do you think that's intimidating for somebody who signed something to get you out of office?" asked NewsChannel 11. 

"I don't think so," DeLeon replied.

"Linda DeLeon has tried to subvert the democratic process with accusations and with threats of jailing us from the very first day," said Armando. 

DeLeon says at least five citizens have signed affidavits, swearing they were misled when they signed the recall petition.  

"At any time, did you misrepresent yourself?", asked NewsChannel 11 to the Gonzaleses. 

"Never. Never. That's an outrageous statement for Linda DeLeon to try and say," said Armando. 

"The Gonzaleses tell me that they've told everyone in Spanish and English what they've been signing, but...," said NewsChannel 11 to DeLeon. 

"That's not what I'm hearing and that's not what I'm reading on affidavits," she said. 

"And you said you recognized the names on the affidavit. Can you share some of those names?" asked NewsChannel 11.  

"I can't share any of the names," DeLeon replied.

"Any of them friends of yours?" NewsChannel 11 asked. 

"Not personal friends, no," DeLeon answered.

The Gonzaleses also tell us they have contacted the Department of Justice. They want the DOJ to decide if the city's process was legal and to question DeLeon's involvement in that process.

DeLeon says the city will continue to collect names for the affidavit to turn over to the District Attorney's office. 

District Attorney Matt Powell says he's not sure anything criminal has occurred but will review the affidavits when he gets them.  But says the closest crime he thinks may have occurred is tampering with governmental documents. 

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