Grievance over ball fields prompts recall vote
Heflin Mayor Judy Tillman faces a special election recall on the December 8 open general and congressional ballot.
Recall committee Chairwoman Barbara Hutchins said that concern began when Tillman instituted a policy that a signed waver is required to use Heflin's two baseball fields.
"You have to sign a piece of paper releasing (liability)," Hutchins said. "I don't know why they can't fix the ball field or put up signs saying 'At Your Own Risk.'
"I have nothing against (Tillman)," she continued. "Except, they need to fix the ball park for the kids."
The contested fields were donated to Heflin in memory of Donnie Nelson and Donnie Norrell.
The resignation due to residency issues of the recall committee's original chairman, Jaime Martin Guice, elevated Hutchins from vice-chairwoman.
According to her, Guice's family and another, who had signed the petition and been removed, had voted in Heflin for years but had recently been determined not to live within the village limits.
The recall committee submitted their petition to the Secretary of State's office on April 30, and had 90 days to secure the required 66 signatures. Having gathered signatures from 69 of 165 verified Heflin voters, Governor Jindal issued a proclamation (78 BJ 2012) on July 24 ordering the recall election.
When the total registered voters in a voting area number less than 1000, a petition for a recall election of an elected official requires (R.S. 18:1300.2(B)) handwritten signatures from at least 40 percent of voters registered at the time the petition is filed with the Secretary of State.
If the area has more than 1000 voters, the petition must contain handwritten signatures from at least 33 and one-third percent of the registered voters.
During the December 8 recall election, according to state law voters will have the opportunity to remove Tillman from office. Should the recall succeed, Heflin's Board of Aldermen will appoint an interim Mayor until a special election to replace Tillman can be held.
Early voting for the December 8 election runs from Saturday November 24 until Saturday December 1. Registration to vote in the election must be received by Wednesday November 7. Mail-in ballots for military and overseas voters may be requested until Tuesday December 4, and must be received by Friday December 7.
As a special election, parish taxpayers must pay the recall election expenses. Louisiana Secretary of State Policy Planner Richard Adcock said, "Special elections cost a maximum of around $1,500 per precinct."
However, according to Adcock, combining special elections with regularly scheduled elections saves parish taxpayers money. "Let's say there are 10 items on the ballot and the state has nine of them. The state is going to pick up around 90 percent of the cost," he said.
It is unknown at this time how many state items will be on the ballot, but because the recall election only affects one district the maximum cost to Webster taxpayers will be $1,500.
Two other Webster elected officials have been subjects of recall elections since 1966. Dixie Inn Chief of Police David H. Wiggins was successfully recalled in July 1981 and Minden Mayor Noel E. Byars was successfully recalled in January 1989.