How Does a Recall Work?

August 11, 2015 By:Anne Marie Kilday

Local News

THE ISSUE: In light of the firing of City Manager Michael Ross, some residents are discussing recalling the three councilmembers – all recently elected – who supported his ouster. Ross’ termination was supported by Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kelly, and Councilmen Brennan Reilly and Burt Ballanfant.

Mayor Susan Sample and Council member Mardi Turner voted against Ross’ termination.


The West U City Charter allows such recall petitions, and signatures can be collected now. But the petitions cannot be submitted until the 180th day – six months – after the council members took office. They were sworn in on June 1, which means Nov 28 would be the earliest petitions could be filed. Since that falls on a Saturday, Nov. 30 would be the first business day for petition filing.


Signatures will become invalid after 180 days.


City Secretary Thelma Lenz reports valid signatures would be required from 15 percent of 10,234 registered voters – or 1,535 signatures.


If the city council refuses to act on a recall petition, according to the Texas Municipal League, the decision could be shifted to the county or a court: “Most charter provisions on recall state that if the mayor or city council does not call a recall election when presented with a valid petition, the county judge shall discharge these duties. Still other charters attempt to place this duty on a district court judge.”


Municipal recall elections are rare in Texas, and attempts to recall elected officials are frequently unsuccessful. Bellaire residents, though, recalled their mayor and three of five council members in 1977 to oppose what they considered runaway development along the West Loop.

8 Responses to “How Does a Recall Work?”

  1. Dick Yehle Says:

    It’s been more than a week since City Council fired Michael Ross. Although I strongly opposed the action, I have been trying to understand what the City will gain from having spent $300,000 in unbudgeted funds to appease three new Councilmembers, something still poorly explained by them.
    • They told the public that they had lost confidence in Ross but gave no indication of what he did or did not do that presented a severe problem to the City.
    • They also asserted that Ross lied during his severance negotiations by virtue of having made application for another job. Given that his announced preference was to stay in West U and that the he had been promised his full severance package to leave, it is hard to see what is wrong him planning his next career move.
    • They asserted that Ross led the Land Swap initiative, something that is categorically false. Work on the Master Plan was started at the direction of City Council months before the WUBC Youth Center announcement but had not come to fruition.
    • They asserted that Ross improperly supported WUBC’s ZBA application for the Milton property, land owned by the City with the City having an interest in a successful application. All actions he took, in what was essentially a joint-application, were at the direction of and with the support of Council. What justifies firing someone for doing their job lawfully and as instructed?
    • They made vague allegations of Ross’s faults but offered no specifics of recent actions rising to a fireable offense.
    • Finally, Councilmember Reilly said that City staff was so good that Ross was immaterial to their performance, a nonsensical statement. Ross hired good people, got them working together and oversaw all of their actions to keep the City moving in the right direction. Had Staff not been performing, I suspect Reilly would have held him accountable for their failures, so it is reasonable that Ross should get credit for their success.
    I am still looking for a cogent explanation of the benefit to the City from firing Ross. Absent evidence of a demonstrable and serious problem, Councilmembers Ballanfant, Kelly and Reilly should be recalled for taking a major action that was not in the best interest of the City. The recall would not be in retribution for what they did but something to protect the City from similar future reckless, expensive, and self-aggrandizing acts.

  2. Recall The Slate Says:

    Our neighborhood is ready to sign a recall petition. How do we get the ball rolling?
    I’d be more than happy to put a sign in my yard.

    The members of the Slate are an embarrassment to the City of West U.

    Time for them to go!!!!

    • Jim Shields Says:

      Some people are putting something together.

      Stay tuned.

      Some people are putting a plan together stay tuned

    • Brokelyn Says:

      I will also put signs up. If someone respectable and competent steps up to lead the recall effort, I will also pledge cash to fund the signs. I am still maintaining anonymity on this site because I have no political or social clout in our city and cannot fend off any wayward attacks by those in power.

      Considering widespread voter apathy and ignorance in WU, we will need volunteers to hit the streets with a factual and respectful accounting of what has transpired. I imagine that we might even find Burt’s 2,000 supporters while doing so!

      Jim, please ask those who are organizing to post their information here once they are ready to go public. PLEASE also ask them to avoid heated rhetoric and political nonsense — there will be a natural skepticism by voters who will (and should) question the motives of those who are calling for a recall. By presenting hard facts, without excluding those that may not perfectly fit the narrative (i.e., claiming that Michael Ross has performed miracles for WU would be overlooking a few tactical mistakes he has made over the many years) I think that the appeal will carry more credibility.

      Thank you.

      • Jim shields Says:

        be assured, this recall effort is being organized by responsible citizens who loathe the tactics of the slate and will not stoop to such a low level.

        professionals are being consulted.

  3. Jim Shields Says:

    Please note who was absent from the meeting where extortion took place.

    Kelly is not stupid. People go to jail for extortion.

    Reilly is a baby lawyer who doesn’t know better. Kelly is playing him like a fine tuned fiddle.

  4. Jim shields Says:

    Just in case some accuses me of extortion.

    Extortion is when Burt and Brennan went to Mike Ross on June third and told Mike that the slate would fire him.then they threatened Mike and told him the slate would find a way to deny him of his separation package if he protested.

    These are the facts, widely publicized and corroborated by Ross. Not one member of the slate challenged these facts.

    Bob and Brennan, I am not a lawyer. You are.if that is not extortion, let me know and I will post a correction.

    What I suggested above is a time honored form of non violent protest usually aimed at a corrupt government.

    I just called the slate corrupt. Here’s why.

    1. They are extortionis.
    2. Burt said he spoke with two thousand voters during the campaign and most told him that they wanted Ross fired. If that were true, the slate would have told us voters during the campaign that the first thing they would do is fire Ross.which is in fact what they did. But they never told us. We were deceived.
    3. The slate campaigned on a,theme of transparency and told us they would never have a closed session meeting. The facts scream otherwise. That are liars.
    4. Kelly and Reilly are bullies who openly disrespect our mayor. In and of itself, this is not corruption. But we deserve better.

    Burt, you have many friends and admirers who are perplexed and outraged at your current behavior.

    Own up to your fabrication about Ross
    Do the right thing.

  5. Jim shields Says:

    I will help in a recall effort.

    In the meantime, this is what I will do. I will take the mullet wrapper that litters my lawn every week – ballanfant’s village news- throw away the trash “journalism” take their ad sheet and go to every advertiser I routinely visit and explain that until they stop advertising in that “newspaper” they will never see me again.

    Small step but if others do this, Burt may come to his senses.

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