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Mayor, City Council Back On Track After Unsuccessful Recall

July 13, 1987

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) _ The mayor and city council have survived a recall vote to oust them in a dispute over a half-finished city trolley.

Opponents of the $12 million trolley had called it a special-interest project intended mostly for tourists at a time when residents have to cope with decaying roads, inadequate police protection and other problems.

Mayor Jan Coggeshall and four other members of the seven-member City Council who had faced recall say the trolley will spur tourism and development in the coastal city, whose heyday as a port and shipyard are long past.

City Secretary Patsy Poole said 8,635 voters, or about 28 percent of the city’s 31,000 registered voters, cast ballots in the recall election.

Ms. Coggeshall withstood the recall attempt by a margin of 56 to 44 percent, with 3,749 voting for her recall and 4,779 against. The margins were similar against recall of council members John Sullivan, Barbara Crews, Daniel ″Sonny″ Nelson and Steve Greenberg.

Pete Fredriksen, a spokesman for We The People, which organized the recall effort, said the election sent a strong message to city government, because in 10 of the 20 precincts a majority voted to recall the mayor.

″It’s a hollow victory for them, said We The People co-founder Jim Mabe. ″From the beginning we said it was an election of the special interests against the poor. The special interests came out and voted, and the poor didn’t and that’s what happened.″

Council member Crews acknowledged the divided vote.

″There are some differences in the voter turnout and the responses in the different areas of the community,″ she said. ″I think we need to pay attention to that.″

Sullivan said the vote indicates that citizens feel the forum to express opposition to those in office is in regular elections, not recall elections.

The trolley is being built with a combination of federal, state and private money. It is expected to be completed and operational sometime next year.

Opponents claim the project will never pay for itself and will be a fiscal drag on the city.

On Jan. 17, Galveston voters approved a measure requiring a vote on all future mass transit projects. City officials said that since contracts had been signed and work begun on the trolley, no vote on the project was required.

Trolley opponents organized the recall, saying the project did require voter approval.

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