A Hubbard resident has filed prospective petitions to recall Mayor Thia Estes and City Councilor Bradley Williams.
Justin Dryden, son of former Hubbard Police Chief Dave Dryden, filed the prospective petition on July 12. In order for the recalls to go to a vote, Dryden said he and other volunteers will need to collect 111 signatures for each petition.
The recall is focused on Estes' and Williams' role in the city's consideration of contracting its police services with Marion County Sheriff's Office, an issue that has become a heated topic in the city.
The prospective petition for Estes accuses the mayor of "crippling our effective police department through willful failure to hire a chief, pursuing Marion County Sheriff contracts against the will of the majority, spending over twice the annual legal budget on the city attorney in six months, and her failure to promote harmonious and working relationships with city council, staff and residents."
The prospective petition for Williams lists the same reasons, stating that Williams would be recalled for "fully supporting the mayor's agenda to willfully cripple and dissolve our effective police department."
The city of Hubbard has been without a permanent chief since October 2016 following the . Former Hubbard police officer William Gill served as interim chief for two months before also announcing his retirement. Lt. Gerry Adcock of MCSO has served as interim chief since March.
The city began to consider contracting with MCSO for additional police services in April after Estes was presented with information from city staff indicating it could reduce costs.
After months of debate, the city council voted on July 11 to move forward with the hiring of a police chief, a vote that signaled the end of the city's consideration of contracting all of its police services with the county.
Justin Dryden said attending the April 11 city council meeting demonstrated to him the necessity of a recall petition. It was at that meeting that the city council first discussed the possibility of contracting further with MCSO.
"Honestly, from the moment I left the meeting on April 11 I knew that Mayor Estes and Councilor Williams were a poor fit for our community," Justin Dryden wrote in an email. "Through the following months I watched them seemingly team up against the other council members, and generally not take the advice and request from community members when it came to the Hubbard Police Department and contracting with MCSO."
Both Estes and Williams came into office following the November 2016 election. Estes ran unopposed, receiving 721 votes. There were 96 write-in votes submitted.
Williams, along with fellow city councilor Barbara Ruiz, was selected from a pool of four candidates (voters were instructed to vote for two candidates). Williams received 397 votes, or 29.28 percent. Ruiz, an incumbent, received the second-highest amount at 361 votes, or 26.62 percent.
Estes' term is scheduled to end in 2018 and Williams' term is scheduled to end in 2020.
"I'm not at all surprised by the recall effort," Estes wrote in an emailed statement. "It's really just one more tactic in a long line of attempts to keep me from discussing the issues with our police department and how best to provide law enforcement services to our city.
"To date, those failed attempts have included multiple ethics complaints, tort claims, anonymous slanderous letters delivered throughout the community, threats and smears to my family, and ongoing attacks on social media," she continued. "So facing a recall effort isn't exactly shocking, especially when headed by the former chief's son."
But Williams said in a phone interview that he's been surprised by the amount of pushback he's gotten from residents for being a vocal proponent of considering a contract with MCSO. After hearing from the sheriff's office that the city could save $200,000 a year by contracting with MCSO, considering the option was a no-brainer for him. Williams further stated the recall's claims are "totally false."
"My agenda is fiscal responsibility and to be fiscally conservative for the long-term benefit of the city of Hubbard," he said. "I have thought through this quite a bit, and have spent a lot of my personal time on it ... I'm absolutely shocked that emotion has trumped reason in this town."
The recall petition statement does go beyond policing services, stating that the council spent "over twice the annual legal budget on the city attorney in six months."
Justin Dryden said that money would be better spent on other things. "Imagine the park upgrades or road improvements. Heck, how much side walk (sic) could we build for 30 thousand dollars?? We cannot afford to continue down this path. Our community deserves better," he wrote.
Williams said the hiring of the police chief has meant that the city attorney has had to provide further services throughout the hiring process. That process has also led city council and city staff to seek advice and guidance from the attorney more often than usual, Williams said. "Everybody on city council has contacted the lawyer," Williams said.
In addition, Williams said residents have filed tort claims, ethics complaints and public information requests regarding the mayor and the city. "All of this stuff has to get filtered through the lawyer," Williams said.
Justin Dryden and the volunteers working on the recall campaign have until Oct. 10 to collect the 111 signatures required for each petition. If the signatures are obtained, the city elections official will begin a verification process for the signatures. If a sufficient number of signatures are submitted and verified, the petitions will qualify for the ballot.
"I think the Save HPD issue has brought much of the community together. I have enjoyed meeting so many great people in our community that value our police and our safe community," Justin Dryden wrote. "I hope that all of these issues will empower members of the community to stand up and make their voices heard, and hopefully we can get some great candidates for the soon-to-be open positions in our local government."