LeBlanc: Gonzales recall organizers have needed signatures

The chairman of a recall effort to unseat Gonzales city councilmen Gary Lacombe and Timothy Vessel said Wednesday the organizers now have the number of signatures needed to place the matter on the ballot.

“We’ve achieved our goal,” said Chuck LeBlanc, chairman for the signature drive, who added that residents will continue working to get signatures beyond the required 2,145 for each petition for the two councilmen.

Signatures are required of one-third of the registered voters in Gonzales for each recall.

LeBlanc said the residents involved in the recall effort, who have formed a group called SaveGonzales, plan to submit the signatures to the Ascension Parish registrar of voters in mid-September for certification, in time for the issue to be placed on the Dec. 6 ballot.

The parish registrar has 15 working days after receiving the petitions to certify the hand-written signatures, before forwarding the petitions to the governor’s office, where an election proclamation would be made, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The people who signed the petitions have five days after the petitions are filed with the registrar’s office to have their signatures removed, if they desire.

SaveGonzales launched the recall attempt in April, citing Lacombe and Vessel’s repeated blocking of zoning changes in the city. By law, the organizers had a deadline of 180 days from the time the signature drive was officially launched to collect the required number of signatures.

According to Louisiana law, R.S. 18:1300.5, a recall petition is a public record once it gets its first signature.

On Aug. 21, Lacombe filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking a state district judge to order LeBlanc, chairMAN of the recall attempt, and Wandetta Reynard, co-chairwoman, to make copies of the petition available to Lacombe.

LeBlanc said Wednesday he hasn’t yet seen the mandamus petition, which Lacombe in 23rd Judicial District Court, but LeBlanc said that when Lacombe wrote him earlier this month requesting the petition, he responded, by letter, that the petition was out among volunteer workers until completion.

“You may try to locate these people and others to view what they have, but again, they will be turned in to my custody upon completion. I will gladly have all available for your viewing and copying at that time,” LeBlanc wrote to Lacombe.

LeBlanc said he never received a response from Lacombe, who could not be reached for comment for this story.

The petition for a writ of mandamus had been assigned to Judge Alvin Turner. However, Turner recused himself from the case because he had filed a suit earlier this month against the City of Gonzales, the mayor and the council members over a rezoning issue for property he owns in the city.