Petition to recall Gonzales councilmen passes first hurdle

Petition to recall Gonzales councilmen passes first hurdle

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - A group which aims to remove two Gonzales City councilmen from office celebrated a victory.

The Save Gonzales Committee claims Gary Lacombe and Timothy Vessel are responsible for crippling economic growth in the city. The initiative began shortly after the pair voted against a rezoning measure that would have allowed two businesses to move inside city limits.

On Monday, Ascension Parish Registrar of Voters, Robert Poche, announced the group had successfully gathered the number of signatures required on a petition to recall Lacombe.

"We were able to certify 2,281 names," Poche said. The group needed 2,145 signatures.

Chuck LeBlanc, the co-chair of Save Gonzales, said his group spent four months knocking on doors to get the necessary signatures. "It's been a pretty hectic ride," LeBlanc said.

The registrar's staff reviewed each signature to certify that it was valid. As late as Tuesday morning, voters filed into the office with last minute requests.

"Sometimes they asked for their name to be removed and on the next set of paperwork we got they wanted their name back on. So it was kind of hectic to keep those straight," Poche said.

In the end, 601 signatures were rejected, but it was not enough to stop the Save Gonzales effort against Lacombe. LeBlanc said the committee planned ahead.

“We knew it would come down to some people being kicked out on a technicality or a signature not matching. We went about 12 percent  over what we needed,” LeBlanc said.

The parish registrar's office is now tasked with reviewing a new set of signatures on a similar petition to recall councilman Vessel. Once Gov. Bobby Jindal receives the verified signatures, he has 15 days to call for an election.

If that happens, Save Gonzales members said they are ready to get back to work.

“We will be back on the streets pushing our efforts and letting everyone know to get out and vote,” LeBlanc said.

9News was not able to reach Lacombe.

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