Local resident-formed political action committee Lake Dallas Citizens for Change (LDCFC) filed an affidavit on Friday with Lake Dallas’ city secretary to push for a recall of council member Steve Forgey.
The group is also moving forward with a petition demanding the resignations of council member April Estrada and Mayor Mike McCaleb. Council member Andi Nolan was originally asked to resign, but Ruby Benoit, who represented the group during a public hearing at Thursday’s council meeting, said they have withdrawn their request for Nolan’s resignation.
The group continues its efforts to remove those on the council they claim violated the city’s charter when they agreed to another contract with Nick Ristagno, who serves as both city manager and police chief. The group rounded up 25 registered voters who voted in the last election to make up the petitioners committee for the recall of Forgey.
The affidavit states the recall is being sought “for the employment of Nick Ristagno in an incompatible dual role capacity with dual salaries.” The request reads the same for Estrada and McCaleb, with the exception of demanding their removal rather than their recall.
At a Nov. 19 council meeting, Benoit gave information to the council alleging that Ristagno’s dual role is illegal, citing the opinions of two former attorney generals. Benoit, on behalf of the group, alleged that because the chief of police answers to the city manager, the two are incompatible.
Members of the council and Ristagno himself argue that Ristagno, in both capacities, answers to the council thus the two are not incompatible as he has six bosses -- the council and the mayor. The contract drafted mentions that if Ristagno does not perform his duties as both police chief and city manger properly, then the council will release him of the city manager position and he would go back to being solely police chief.
Forgey became the subject of the recall after Benoit spoke at the Nov. 19 meeting. Forgey penned an open letter to the LDCFC in response to Benoit’s demands, asking for the group to send him money to cover legal expenses for the city.
Forgey is one of three current City Council members, along with McCaleb, who are in a legal battle with council member Julie Mathews, who was removed from her position on the council in June due to alleged charter violations. Mathews filed a lawsuit and was granted a temporary restraining order that allows her to remain on the council until a trial for the case takes place.
“You and your group put your money where your mouth is, and I will resign my council seat,” Forgey’s letter stated. “Send $100,000 to the city of Lake Dallas in certified funds in my name. This will hopefully cover the legal costs that Julie Mathews is causing the citizens of Lake Dallas and will help cover the cost of an unscheduled election.”
Though there hasn’t been an explanation as to why Forgey is being recalled and not Estrada or McCaleb, the latter are up for re-election in May while Forgey was elected in the most recent election. City Secretary Joni Vaughn said Friday that the signatures have been submitted to city attorney David Berman for his review and interpretation. According to the city’s charter, once a petitioners’ committee is formed, they must now create a petition for the recall within 30 days.
The petition must contain “the signatures of qualified voters equal in number to no fewer than 25 percent. In this case, slightly more than 100 signatures are needed for the petition. Only then can the petition be presented to the city secretary, who will then have 10 days to complete the process of certification.