AP NEWS

Hearing scheduled in elections lawsuit

March 13, 2019

A visiting judge scheduled a hearing over District 2 City Commissioner Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa’s effort to keep one of her opponents in the May election off of the ballot.

Tetreau-Kalifa sued Catalina Presas-Garcia on Feb. 22 alleging that Presas-Garcia committed voter fraud by signing an affidavit stating she had collected signatures when, according to Tetreau-Kalifa, another individual collected those signatures.

Last week, Tetreau-Kalifa filed court documents asking for a temporary restraining order hearing, which visiting Judge Robert Pate scheduled for March 22 at 10 a.m. in the 197th state District Court.

In her motion, Tetreau-Kalifa argued that a hearing must be held because early voting starts on April 22.

“A temporary injunction hearing must be had in order to protect the rights of the litigants in sufficient time to allow the City of Brownsville to print their ballots and have them ready for the early voting period,” she says in court documents.

The sitting commissioner has asked Pate to determine whether Presas-Garcia complied with the Texas Election Code; whether any signatures should be stricken from her petition and declared void and invalid; whether she has the requisite number of valid signatures; whether the court should issue a temporary injunction preventing Presas-Garcia from being on the ballot; and whether the court should order City Secretary Griselda Rosas to declare Presas-Garcia to be unqualified.

Presas-Garcia’s attorney, David Willis, has said that he and his client are confident Tetreau-Kalifa’s lawsuit will be dismissed and said the city failed to notify Presas-Garcia of a challenge to her place on the ballot.

“We look forward to discovering how Jessica Tetreau’s campaign obtained a copy of Catalina Presas-Garcia’s application and petition for a place on the ballot, as described in her supplemental lawsuit when Mrs. Presas-Garcia’s public information request for similar documents was denied by the City,” Willis said in an emailed statement last week.

After news of the election lawsuit surfaced, Presas-Garcia said District 2 residents have a right to sign a petition supporting any particular candidate and called Tetreau’s legal action disappointing.

“But I’m going to tell you, me, as a candidate, I’m disappointed that her, as a sitting elected official, that she is trying to remove the rights of citizens who have written their names on a document on a petition that they support the candidate they signed off on,” Presas-Garcia said. “There’s the real question here. Is she challenging the citizens that have already written their name here?”

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com