Home Local News Tatum petition to add fifth council member means special election

Tatum petition to add fifth council member means special election

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Virginia Cunningham/News-Sun

TATUM — A special election will be held in Tatum to decide if a fifth council member should be added, after a resident-led petition received more than the required amount of signatures.

The petition required 5 percent of registered Tatum voters to sign the petition in order for it to be validated and adopted. The petition gathered approximately 13 percent of the 443 registered voters in Tatum.

Tatum resident Rusty Ramirez led the charge in gaining the 61 signatures for the petition.

The petition requested a special election be held to add a fifth councilor to the Tatum Council. Currently there are four council members and the mayor exercises a tie breaking vote when needed. Adding a fifth councilor will relieve the mayor of any voting power on the council.

Tatum Town Clerk Amanda Thomas completed the verification of the petition and deemed it valid, giving the council only 10 days to adopt the petition.

Even though a general election is approaching in November, the ballot item of a fifth council seat can not wait until then, as the wording of the petition calls for the election to be held within 90 days of the resolution.

Therefore, the election will have to be held on or before Aug. 29.

At the regular scheduled town council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Amy Gutierrez asked the council where the $7,000-$8,0000 for the cost of the election was going to come from and when it would be due.

Thomas said since the special election was not budgeted for, the funds would have to be moved from somewhere.

Gutierrez then asked the council why there was a need to even add a fifth councilor and Councilor Leisha Joiner asked if Ramirez could address the council on why he started the petition.

Ramirez approached the podium.

“My motivation was to counter you, Amy,” said Ramirez. “You’ve been nothing but a horrible mayor.”

Ramirez said there was a need for a fifth councilor because Gutierrez is the tie breaker in a divided council which in the end gives her the majority vote.

“So you didn’t agree with the choices I made?” asked Gutierrez.

“I feel any governing body is supposed to represent the will of the people,” said Ramirez. “Adding a fifth councilor—“

Gutierrez interrupted Ramirez and the two squabbled over who’s turn it was to talk.

Ramirez exhaled loudly through pursed lips in frustration.

“Can I ask him to finish?” asked Joiner.

“In a nice manner,” said Councilor Ron Smith to Ramirez.

“I haven’t called her (Gutierrez) any names,” said Ramirez.

“Well when you say she is a horrible mayor, that is your opinion,” said Smith.

“Are you allowed to have an opinion, Ron?” asked Ramirez before continuing his original address.

Ramirez told Gutierrez she had blatant disregard for the will of the people in Tatum. He said a fifth councilor would give the public a voice because Gutierrez was not a voice of the people.

Joiner made a motion to adopt the resolution for the special election to add a fifth councilor and a second was made. The resolution passed unanimously on a vote of 3-0.

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