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Petition calls for recall of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson after party switch

By Madaleine Rubin, The Texas Tribune

Petition calls for recall of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson after party switch” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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A three-time former Dallas City Council candidate is circulating a petition to oust Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson in response to his switch to the Republican Party last year.

Davante Peters, a local activist and owner of a Dallas health store, said Tuesday that he has obtained about 1,100 signatures in support of recalling Johnson. Peters told The Texas Tribune that Johnson’s political party affiliation switch and absence at several City Council meetings last year made him doubt the mayor’s commitment to his position.

Dallas City Secretary Bilierae Johnson confirmed to The Dallas Morning News that Peters filed his petition Friday. Peters said he must obtain over 103,000 signatures from registered voters by March 5 in order for the petition to reach Dallas’ City Council, who can decide whether to hold a mayoral recall election.

“If we regular people didn’t go to work, we wouldn’t have a job,” Peters said. “I feel like our leadership should be held to that same standard.”

According to Dallas’ city charter, the petition must be signed by 15% of registered voters eligible to vote in the city’s most recent general election within 60 days in order to move forward. If Peters hits that threshold and the city’s secretary finds that all signatures are valid, the City Council can choose to bring the recall to a vote.

In Dallas, the mayoral office and all City Council positions are nonpartisan — voters do not see candidates’ party affiliation when they cast ballots. But Johnson’s announcement in September that he was switching to the Republican Party prompted backlash from some voters. The mayor’s move turned Dallas, solidly Democratic, into the country’s largest city with a GOP mayor.

Kardal Coleman, chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party, started an online petition last year calling for the two-term mayor — a former long-time Democrat — to resign. As of Tuesday, it has over 2,300 signatures.

Peters said he felt that the online petition was a “symbolic effort.” His recall petition is the first filed with the city’s secretary against a Dallas City Council member since a failed effort to unseat a council member in 2017.

Johnson’s office did not respond on Tuesday to requests for comment on the petition.

In September, a KERA News analysis of city records revealed that Johnson has missed over 130 unexcused hours of council meetings, including 13 total meetings — more than any other current Dallas City Council member.

“We have big issues here, and Dallas is rapidly changing,” Peters said. “We need someone who is going to be cognizant and present.”

Peters said he hopes the petition will gain support from Coleman, other Dallas Democrats and community activists.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/01/09/dallas-mayor-eric-johnson-recall-petition/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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