Petition to recall Gonzales city councilman fails

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD --  Gonzales Councilman Gary Lacombe Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Gonzales Councilman Gary Lacombe

An effort to recall Councilman Gary Lacombe failed to get the required number of signatures to make it happen.

By Tuesday’s deadline, the recall petition only got between 300 and 400 signatures of the 2,147 required by the Secretary of State’s Office, according to the two residents who initiated the petition.

Getting a recall election on the ballot requires the certified signatures of one-third of the city’s registered voters.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” said James “Stump” Marchand, who along with Claston Bernard, initiated the recall effort.

“I take the blame” on the low number of signatures, Marchand said, adding that he didn’t have the time needed for the recall effort.

“We probably jumped the gun, took things a little too fast. We should have gotten our ducks in a row,” Marchand said.

Marchand and Bernard, who was defeated by Terance Irvin in a run for the Gonzales City Council in November, began the signature drive over a zoning issue that has since been settled.

In March, Lacombe and two other councilmen voted against an industrial rezoning in the city for the site of the regional headquarters of Emerson Process Management, a Pittsburgh company.

At that March 18 meeting, Bernard voiced concern that the councilmen were voting against a major project for the city.

Later, the council voted unanimously to rezone the property as commercial and granted Emerson a special-use permit for the site, which is adjacent to the Edenborne neighborhood development.

On Tuesday, Lacombe said he had not heard of the failure of the recall petition effort and had not been following it.

“My philosophy on new development is fairly simple,” he said in an email. “We need to add residential sections to manage the growth in our region. We also need to add commercial sections to provide the resources for consumers who live and work here.

“Developing … with a strategic blend of residential and commercial parcels that form a community-friendly layout is our best option,” Lacombe said.

Marchand said he and Bernard are considering filing another recall petition to oust Lacombe.

Meg Casper, press secretary with the Secretary of State’s Office, said such a petition could be filed again, and the “clock would start ticking again,” with the required number of signatures having to be in within 180 days of the filing.

Signatures are required to be made in person, so the Secretary of State’s Office can verify that the signer is a registered voter and that the signature is a valid one, she said.

A successful petition would result in a recall being placed on the ballot. Elected officials who are recalled can run for the office again in the special election to fill the unexpired term.