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Opponents take first step in recalling Alpine mayor

June 5th, 2013 under Top Stories

By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN

ALPINE – In an unprecedented move in Far West Texas politics, three former Alpine City Council members have started the process to recall Mayor Dr. Avinash Rangra from his elected position.

Former council members Carlos Lujan, Diana Asgeirsson, and Hugh Johnson have filed an affidavit for petition for recall at city hall. Lujan, who had served on the council as recently as last month and did not seek re-election, vowed multiple times to recall the mayor, who he described in the past as, “somebody with no ethics.”

The signed affidavit by Lujan, Asgeirsson and Johnson make them responsible for collecting signatures for their petition to recall Rangra.

Alpine Mayor Dr. Avinash Rangra, left, and then-City Councilman Carlos Lujan, right, at a city council meeting. (staff photo by ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN)

Rangra’s political opponents need at least 350 signatures from eligible voters in Alpine to certify the petition. If accomplished, the city council will call for a special election on recalling the mayor. Alpine residents would then vote for or against recalling Rangra.

Under the city’s charter, an elected official whose removal is sought would have the opportunity to request a public hearing to defend themselves and present facts relating to the charges against them.

Under the grounds for seeking the recall in their affidavit, the three Alpine residents said of Rangra that he “obstructed efforts to expose financial problems and terminate responsible employees; unethical behavior; participated in TOMA violations/city charter violations.”

Lujan said this week that the move to recall Rangra has taken the form of a full-blown political campaign. Donations have been received and he expects yard signs to arrive soon. He added that he and his supporters would go door-to-door seeking signatures, as well as sending out mailers to residents.

“We’re going to kick-off the campaign on Monday. We’ll start pushing forward. We already have a lot of people waiting to sign [the petition],” Lujan said.

Asgeirsson said she joined the movement to recall Rangra because of what she believes to be his unethical behavior.

“He still holds meetings with some council members at the coffee shop on a regular basis. That doesn’t look good. If he wants to meet with constituents that’s one thing,” she said.

Johnson said he’s followed Alpine city politics for many years and that he was “particularly disturbed at the financial problems and was particularly disturbed when Dr. Rangra and his crew attempted to obstruct,” efforts to resolve the wrongdoing.

Johnson was referring to a recent financial scandal in which the city’s latest audit highlighted major flaws in the city’s handling of its finances.

“I personally think there are an awful lot of people upset over the finances,” Johnson said. “The thing is whether they get out and vote.”

Johnson served on the city council for eight months until he, “got fed up” and resigned. Lujan then finished Johnson’s term.

“It takes a lot of ambition and willingness to stand up for what’s right,” Johnson said of recalling the mayor.

When contacted this week, Rangra declined to comment on this matter over the telephone.

According to the city’s charter, if the majority of voters vote in favor of recalling an elected official, the council will immediately vacate that office.

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