John Cook Settles With Person Who Tried to Recall Him

In July of 2011, a recall effort against John Cook (then Mayor of El Paso), Steve Ortega (then District 7 Representative) and Susie Byrd (then District 2 Representative) was launched.  The recall was initiated by El Paso pastor Tom Brown of the Word of Life Church through an organization called El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values.  According to ballotpedia, “Brown initiated the recall after the El Paso city council voted to return health benefits to the unmarried partners of homosexual city employees. A May 2011 voter-approved ordinance had stripped these groups of their benefits, while also inadvertently taking benefits away from a number of unintended groups such as retirees. When the mayor and council overturned this ordinance, Pastor Brown called for their recall.”

Initially, the recall was halted because of a restraining order filed by Mayor Cook barring recall supporters from submitting petitions on grounds that the effort potentially violated Texas election law. Cook claimed that recall organizers used Pastor Brown’s church as a platform to circulate petitions in violation of a state statute prohibiting corporations (including nonprofits and churches) from contributing to recall elections.  Then the recall was allowed to move forward, then halted again.  Jaime Esparza even jumped into the fray in 2012 when he considered bringing charges against El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values on allegations that the group violated a state law that prohibits accepting more than $100 in cash contributions (ultimately he didn’t do anything). Both sides filed lawsuits, with John Cook having to cover his own legal fees because “the recall election was a political process and as such, the city is not supposed to take sides.”

Well, it appears that the whole affair has finally come to an end.  KVIA reported today that Cook has settled with Brown for an unspecified amount.  Brown’s attorney, Jerad Wayne Najvar, told ABC-7 in March, “It’s outrageous to have a situation where you have a powerful political official, who’s going after a group of people who stepped up and said we want to recall this political official.”

Whether or not you agree with Brown and his group, as a citizen of El Paso, aren’t you worried about what happened to them?  According to Brown in his piece in the El Paso Times:  “The city as a whole is responsible for stripping us of our constitutional rights….Do you think we feel we have a right to ever circulate a recall petition? Not me, not after what I went through.”


One thought on “John Cook Settles With Person Who Tried to Recall Him

  1. Thanks for bringing up the question, one that other blogs will ignore. Yes, it is very concerning that organizations must comply with onerous, complicated restrictions to organize a recall. Apparently the court is saying that organizations must officially become PACs to participate in a recall effort. Having a recall process in the City charter is useless. No one will be able to utilize it.


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