Group of Granite Shoals residents petitioning to recall mayor, councilor

Granite Shoals group petitioning to recall mayor and councilor

Citizens’ Rights Group of Granite Shoals is collecting signatures on a petition for a recall election for Mayor Carl Brugger (left) and Councilor Bruce Jones. The group is upset over the City Council's recent approval of a $37,000 raise for City Manager Jeff Looney. Courtesy photo

An organized group of Granite Shoals residents is petitioning for the City Council to hold a recall election for Mayor Carl Brugger and Place 2 Councilor Bruce Jones. 

Citizens’ Rights Group of Granite Shoals needs to collect at least 152 signatures to move forward with the process for holding a recall election for Brugger and Jones in November.

The Granite Shoals City Charter requires at least 6.5 percent of the number of registered voters residing in the city sign a recall petition. This works out to roughly 152 residents.

“I would really like to have (at least 152 signatures) this week,” group spokesman Phil Ort said Monday, Aug. 17. “I think we’ll need a week to 10 days to get them. We’re going to try to reach out to everyone in the city. We want to know what the majority of citizens in Granite Shoals want.”

The residents’ group formed after the Granite Shoals City Council unanimously voted Aug. 4 to give City Manager Jeff Looney a $37,000 raise from $125,000 a year to $162,000. A week later, after pushback from residents, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Davant and Place 1 Councilman Ron Munos tried to rescind the raise but failed in a 5-2 vote.

The group initially targeted the entire council, along with the mayor, for recall; however, after the Aug. 11 meeting, organizers decided to focus on Brugger and Jones. 

Ort said the group was concerned that upending the entire City Council would negatively affect the $7 million water bond project and the $3 million street bond project.

“It’s best to have continuity of government,” he said. 

The group opted to leave alone Place 4 Councilor Steve Hougen and Place 5 Councilor Libby Edwards since they were both appointed to the council in May after two previous members stepped down. Due to their appointments, both are on the Nov. 3 ballot. Hougen is running unopposed; Edwards faces challenger Shirley Martin. 

And Ort is challenging Skinner for the Place 6 spot in the upcoming election.

“It doesn’t sound right (to recall Skinner’s seat) when I’m running against him,” Ort said. “It doesn’t seem fair, and it doesn’t sound right (to recall Hougen and Edwards who) have less than three months on the council. They were doing what the group said. And two members (Davant and Munos) voted to remove (Looney’s) raise.” 

So that left Jones and Brugger, he said. Jones is running unopposed on the November ballot. Brugger’s regular term expires in May 2021. 

Typically, Granite Shoals holds city elections on the first Saturday in May, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the election was postponed until November. 

Members of the Citizens’ Rights Group of Granite Shoals will be at Quarry Park, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road, Tuesday-Friday, Aug. 18-21, from 5-7 p.m. collecting signatures. Residents who don’t have transportation to the park may email the group at crgogs@gmail.com, and a member will bring a petition to them. (Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the group would be in the park on Monday, Aug. 17, but that changed since publication.)

Once the group has collected 152 signatures, they’ll take them to Granite Shoals City Secretary Elaine Simpson, who then has 21 days to verify the signatures and present the recall petition to the City Council. Both Brugger and Jones can request a public hearing to address the petition once it’s presented to the council. 

While the reason for the recall petition stems from the $37,000 pay raise for the city manager, Ort said the Citizens’ Rights Group’s consensus is that Looney is doing a great job. 

“But a $37,000 pay raise after two years of service in a poor city during a pandemic is just wrong,” he added. “But (Looney) is doing a fantastic job here. It’s the wrong amount at the wrong time.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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