AUSTIN, Texas - A new Political Action Committee, or PAC, has formed aiming to force recall elections for Austin Mayor Steve Adler and several of the more recently-elected Council Members.
The Austinite who started the petition says it was recent discussions over homeless ordinances that pushed her over the edge.
“We just don’t feel like they're listening to the people that pay the taxes,” said Sharon Blythe.
Blythe has long been an advocate for saving Austin's cemeteries. Now it's the city itself that needs saving in Blythe’s view. She's formed a PAC called “Our Town Austin.”
“We are trying to recall the Mayor and five Council Members,” Blythe said.
That's Adler, District 1's Natasha Harper-Madison, District 3's Sabino “Pio” Renteria, District 5's Ann Kitchen, District 8's Paige Ellis, and District 9's Kathie Tovo.
Blythe points out the other Council Members are already up for re-election next November.
“We have numerous volunteers already, we have numerous businesses that are going to put those petitions on their counters for customers to sign when they come in,” Blythe said.
Our Town Austin then will present the signatures to the City Clerk. According to the City of Austin's Charter, the group would have to get ten percent of the qualified voters in a Council Member's district. For Adler, that's ten percent of the whole city.
Once the recall petitions are verified, the Council Member or Mayor whose removal is sought has five days to resign. If they don't resign, the Council has to order a recall election.
Blythe says the goal is to collect the signatures by mid-January and she feels confident they can do it.
“Absolutely. There’s enough turmoil in this city that we have to do something about it — somebody had to step up to the plate,” Blythe said.
For Blythe, the City's handling of the Major League Soccer stadium deal was a sore point -- but what sparked the political action committee was the homeless issue.
“The homeless issue is really what pushed me over the edge because of the way that the city is looking now and we’re the ones that pay the taxes, we should be listened to more clearly,” Blythe said.
Last week, City Council in their words “clarified” the camp/sit/lie changes they made in June -- including a camping ban on all city sidewalks.
“I think they should have gone a lot farther. Even as far as repealing what they’d done in June,” Blythe said.
Blythe says 10-1 is making it harder to get anyone to listen at City Hall.
“That’s why we’re talking about transparency because I think they’re making deals behind closed doors down there and not listening to the people. They’re making up their minds before they even hear testimony,” Blythe said.
Tovo says she'd like to know who is behind the PAC besides Blythe.
“Certainly it’s a citizen’s right to initiate a recall petition. I wouldn't do that unless there was a case of corruption or dishonesty or extreme incompetence and certainly none of those apply in this situation for any of my colleagues. Clearly there are some policy issues but the five members that are named -- sometimes disagree,” Tovo said.
She says the recall effort won't draw her focus. She's continuing to serve the community and her constituents.
Kitchen sent this statement:
“It’s difficult for me to comment when we don’t know who is involved. There are no names, other than Sharon Blythe, on the Our Town website or the Press Statement. I will be able to speak to this better when the people who are doing this reveal themselves.”