Amid a recall petition against him, a Hearne city councilman says he plans on stepping down from his post, though he declined to say when.
Place 2 Councilman Rodrick Jackson told The Eagle on Tuesday that he will resign before his term ends. He was elected to the council in May by defeating former councilwoman LaShunda White by 17 votes.
“I am going to resign simply because I’m tired, and my health is up and down,” Jackson said. “And if the people of Hearne don’t want better, then why should I fight for better for them?”
A recall petition against Jackson that was circulated among residents was submitted Nov. 14 to the Hearne city secretary, who was scheduled Monday to present the petition to the City Council. Monday’s special council meeting, however, was canceled because of a lack of a quorum. Jackson and Councilwomen Shirley Harris and Martha Castilleja did not attend the meeting.
It’s unclear how the cancellation of Monday’s meeting will affect whether the city can move forward with a recall election — according to the city charter, the city secretary has to present a recall petition to the City Council within five days of its submittal, and Monday was the deadline. City Secretary Linda Pecina and Sarah Griffin, senior associate at the city’s law firm for attorney services, did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Still, Jackson submitted a written request for a public hearing on the matter Tuesday. The charter states that an officer whose removal is sought may request a public hearing within five days after the petition has been presented to the council “to present the facts pertinent to the charges specified in the recall petition.” The council then has no more than 15 days to hold a public hearing after receiving a request.
When asked why he is requesting a public hearing in spite of his decision to eventually resign, Jackson said that “the truth needs to be told.” Jackson, who led the initiation of a forensic audit on city finances and ran on a platform of exposing corruption he sees in the city, said he wants those who voted for him to know that there’s “still hope” for Hearne.
“I ran on saying that I would be honest — I am still honest, and I’m still fighting for the rights of the citizens to expose any corruption like I said I would,” Jackson said. “I said I would expose anyone’s corruption, even including myself.”
The city charter states if an officer whose recall is sought does not resign, the council’s duty is to order a recall election within a window of no less than 25 days and no more than 35 days from the date the petition is presented to the council or from the date of the public hearing.
Jackson said he has nothing to hide and that he hasn’t resigned yet because he’s done nothing wrong. Jackson said he hasn’t read the petition’s grounds for requesting a recall election — “that’s how concerned I am about it,” he said.
Interim City Manager John Naron confirmed via email the date the city received the petition and that Jackson has the ability to request a public hearing, but he did not respond to questions about how many signatures the petition received, whether they had been verified as registered voters, what the cancellation of Monday’s meeting means for the recall process or provide other details of the petition. The Eagle has requested a copy of the petition through the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the city charter, a petition demanding the recall of a council member must receive signatures from registered voters totaling at least 30 percent of the votes cast in the last regular municipal election.
Jackson said he’s been criticized since the day he joined the council but believes the recall petition was started because he’s moved closer to exposing wrongdoings in Hearne.
“I have concrete evidence of the corruption that’s going on. It’s just going on with different people now, and that’s when it started,” Jackson said. “They know they are busted, and I told them what my situation was as far as corruption.”
Jackson said he’s consulted with an attorney on how and when to submit his resignation. Until then, his message to voters: “God bless the city of Hearne, God bless the schools in Hearne and God bless America.”