By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Voters met at the Killeen Community Center parking lot to kick off the signing of seven petitions, each aimed at recalling a different council member.
The effort is led by Jonathan Okray, a resident seeking a recall after a 4-3 vote agreed to buy out former City Manager Connie Green for $750,000.
Petition supporters showed up Thursday and there was a steady crowd of about 50 as people came and went for an hour.
Those collecting signatures have less than 30 days to gather 1,050 signatures on each of the seven petitions.
Okray said he launched the petitions because no one could answer the question of why the council paid Green about $245,000 more than the $555,000 that his contract stipulated for a buyout agreement.
The results of the first day showed a total of 850 signatures. Individually, 130 people signed petitions to recall Councilmen Juan Rivera and Kenny Wells and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper, while 140 people signed petitions to recall JoAnn Purser and Ernest Wilkerson. Petitions for Councilmen Larry Cole and Billy Workman had about 120 and 118 signatures, respectively.
Most said they signed all of the petitions. Some brought tables to set up the petitions, which were originally signed on the hood of Okray's truck. Someone else made signs for his truck and was driving people to the site to sign the petitions.
Okray said he'll be back at the Killeen Community Center at 6 p.m. today to collect more signatures.
Voters unable to attend today can contact him at email@example.com or (254) 368-8966.
Two councilmen show up
Workman was at the community center Thursday, urging the recall of all seven council members - including himself.
"If this is what it takes to clean house for the city, to start all over, that's what has to be, but I know I've done all I can do for the city since 2006," Workman said. "This is a process. I look forward to it. Citizens need to wake up and take their city back."
Wells was there as well.
"I think the citizens certainly have a right to do that and I understand their frustration with what's happened; however, we made an attempt to explain that our hands were tied during this situation and we did the very best we could under the circumstances.
"However, in many cases that never got to the media and now there's different opinions among different council members obviously."
Wells said that during buyout negotiations, he based his position off numbers provided by Green, which were closer to the $750,000 number, that he said may have been about $40,000 in difference.
Other sources from the council and the city have used a $555,000 figure to describe what Green's contract required.
Wells further said Green asked for significantly more than the amount he received.
Okray has until May 4 to gather the necessary signatures. The city charter requires he gather 51 percent of the number of voters in the most recent election in which four council members were elected. A total of 2,057 voted during the May 9, 2009, election. Those who sign the petitions must be registered voters.
If Okray is successful, the election won't happen until Nov. 8 because of a state law requiring recalls be held on regular election days, said Killeen spokeswoman Hilary Shine.
"If four or more council members are voted out of office in a recall election, then council would not have a quorum and therefore could not meet," she said. "If City Council can't meet, they can't vote to call an election. In that case, the city would have to ask the district court to order an election."
Should the council fail or refuse to order the election, the charter states a Bell County district judge will be relied on to order the recall election.
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.