One of the recall posters displayed throughout Alpine (KRTS Photo, Natalie Pattillo).
Last week, three former Alpine city council members filed a recall affidavit for the recall of Mayor Avinash Rangra. Signs went up on Monday around Alpine calling for the recall. For Marfa Public Radio, Sarah Vasquez took the temperature of the community of Alpine over this issue.
When you walk by Ivan’s Warehouse, you immediately see the red poster with the mayor’s face. Inside is the recall center where Carlos Lujan has set up his campaign to recall Alpine City Mayor Avinash Rangra.
“Our signs are attention-getters,” said Hugh Johnson, former Alpine city council member.
Johnson, Lujan and Diana Asgeirsson are the group behind the recall. Last week, they filed an affidavit and signs went up Monday in support of the recall. They’re currently trying to collect the 350 signatures necessary to call a special recall election. Lujan set up the center on East Holland Avenue to raise campaign awareness and gather signatures.
On the afternoon KRTS visited, an Alpine resident was intrigued by the posters while walking by, and stopped in. After hearing what Lujan had to say, he later returned with his wife to sign the petition.
Lujan also said that vollunteers will call voters from the center and walk door to door to collect signatures. He has about seven people gathering signatures.
“I’ve heard from them lightly, I don’t know how many how they’ve picked up, but they’ve been telling me that they’re getting a great response from people, so we’re very hopeful that we’re gonna see this in the next few weeks and move on to recall the city mayor,” said Lujan.
Other Alpine residents, like Joseph Goldman, are skeptical about the special election. Goldman was recently appointed to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and he’s served on the Environmental Advisory Board in the past. Goldman’s first response to news of the recall effort was to ask….why?
The former council members list a variety of reasons. Lujan and Johnson claim that Mayor Rangra doesn’t have ethics. Johnson says it’s the mayor’s obstructionism and that bothers him, especially after an independent audit critical of the city’s management was released in April.
“We believe that the city needs to change the way they’re doing business. I’m really upset with the way the mayor attempted to block exposure of financial wrongdoing. That really bothered me,” said Johnson.
But Goldman disagrees.
“Although he takes responsibility for what goes on in the city and the fiscal responsibility and such, he’s a very honorable man, and he has shown his service and his dedication to the city for ever since he’s been here since 1967,” said Goldman.
Mayor Rangra wouldn’t comment for this story, but he said in the Alpine Avalanche this week, this petition is character assassination.
There’s been a lot of accusations and finger pointing from both sides.
Goldman has worked all over the world, lived in Houston and is involved in scientific and professional organizations. Yet he says this situation is like nothing he’s ever seen.
“And I found that the politics here are very strange because it seems like this community should be focused on the fact that we’re the center of higher learning in the entire Big Bend area with Sul Ross State University. We’ve got tremendous number, the percentage of individuals who have retired that are sort of high level professionals. There’s some that are mathematicians, physicists, I think a great social scientist, and for some reason, we allow this kind of petty political stuff to go on,” said Goldman.
Whether there’s a recall election or not is still up in the air. However, former councilman Johnson would like it to happen soon. Lujan said that if Mayor Rangra is voted out of office, they will move on to out other officials they feel need to be removed. But Johnson has a different goal.
“My personal hope is if we can indeed recall the mayor that this will send a message to some of the other folks that they need to clean up their act and fly right,” said Johnson.
According to the city charter, they have six months prior to the recent general election to call the special election.