Former City Leader Mails Out Strong Message About DeLeon Recall - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/2/07

Former City Leader Mails Out Strong Message About DeLeon Recall

NewsChannel11 Investigator Cecelia Jones obtained a letter sent out by a former city councilman to more than 500 residents in District 1 who signed the recall petition for Councilwoman Linda DeLeon.

Former Lubbock City Councilman Victor Hernandez says he wrote the letter to the folks who participated in the recall process.  He wanted to applaud those for getting involved in the political process and not allow to be bullied by politicians. He sent it to DeLeon as well. 

In bold, and underlined the title of the letter reads, "Intimidation of voters who signed the petition to recall Councilwoman Linda DeLeon."

Hernandez, the man who used to hold the seat where DeLeon now presides, writes "Thanks to those who signed the petition" not because he wanted to see DeLeon removed, but because they cared enough about "public affairs to get involved." 

Hernandez did not wish to do an on-camera interview, but he told NewsChannel 11 over the phone that he wrote the letter after getting numerous complaints from citizens. 

"One would think that since the recall effort failed, Councilwoman DeLeon would have put this behind her and attempt to mend fences with those who might have a bone to pick with her. Instead, I continue to receive phone calls and personal visits by individuals who signed the recall petition and who are being subjected to what they call 'harassment, intimidation and threats'," Hernandez said.

We asked the Councilwoman if she or her supporters are still contacting those on the petition.  "I am sure some of my friends in the Hispanic agenda I gave copies to. They live in these neighborhoods," DeLeon said.

NewsChannel 11 also showed DeLeon a copy of the letter.  She read it last Friday for the first time, a day before she was supposed to get her own copy.  

"I guess he (Hernandez) wants to have a reaction from people out in the community.  But I think this will open the eyes of those who supported me in this last election that voted for me instead of Victor that he's involved in this situation too," DeLeon said.

Because there have been a lot of questions as to DeLeon's involvement and how the city went about justifying the petition, the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation. However, the city has denied any wrongdoings and is willing to cooperate with the DOJ.

In the meantime, petition organizers have said they will start up another recall effort to oust DeLeon given that her term of office expires in 2010.  

Hernandez says this letter is no indication of his desires to run for District 1 city council again. Hernandez served as councilman for ten years and then resigned in 2004.  But, he ran for city council again last year and lost to DeLeon. 

We're still probing into this issue and will bring you the latest when we find out more.

Armando and Naida Gonzales were part of a group that started gathering 672 signatures in April after they became dissatisfied with DeLeon's leadership.  This also came after the city council voted to buy the building where South Beach Club is located.  The Gonzales's son, Chris Gonzales, is the owner of that club.  The city has plans to turn it into a Visitor's Center. 

The petition organizers gathered 672 signatures for the recall petition, well over the amount needed to make it good.  However, when they turned their list over to the city secretary's office, City Secretary Becky Garza rejected it.  Garza said it had failed by 22 signatures and she disqualified 200 other signatures because she said the signers were not registered voters, or because of wrong information. The Gonzales's asked that it be re-checked.  Garza checked it again and stuck by her original decision.  This time, however, the petition had failed by 39 signatures.

Victor Hernandez's Letter to Signers of DeLeon Petition
Copy of the letter former City Councilman sent out regarding what he calls the "intimidation of voters who signed the petition to recall Councilwoman Linda DeLeon".

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