Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe mayor’s post about mass shooting prompts resident to launch recall effort

A Santa Fe resident attempts to remove Mayor Jason Tabor from his office weeks after apologizing for sharing seemingly inaccurate details on Facebook about the fatal 2018 Santa Fe High School mass shooting.

The resident has put on an affidavit to initiate a recall and the city has provided him with petition forms, city secretary Janet Davis confirmed. A recall action could come before the voters in the November 2 elections if enough people sign the petition – 250 registered voters, or 20 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last general election, whichever is the city law is higher.

Jarrad Moore, a parishioner who knows families of high school students affected by the shooting, said enough people had expressed their contempt that he believed residents should officially address the issue of deportation.

“The people here, it’s a conservative community,” he said. “And many of them have voiced concerns that (Tabor) is not representing them as a mayor should act.”

The mayor said he believed he would win if there was an election. The Galveston County Daily News first reported on the recall.

“Citizens always have the option to call back,” said Tabor. “I am confident that I have the support of the community behind me.”

In early July, Tabor apologized for the social media post he posted during an alcoholic weekend in Louisiana. This post has been criticized by prosecutors and parents of the victims, the latter of whom know little about the details of the May 18, 2018 shooting.

The Houston Chronicle failed to receive a copy of the original post, but the KPRC news channel released a story with a screenshot in which Tabor speculated on a motive for the shooting and shared details about a victim’s injuries.

Galveston County’s District Attorney Jack Roady convicted Tabor of the post, adding that it was incorrect.

Tabor was elected mayor when a gunman at Santa Fe High School killed 10 and injured 13 others, including Santa Fe ITS officer John Barnes. The then student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, then 17, was charged with murder in the massacre.

The accused shooter remains in custody in a psychiatric institution because he was classified as incapable of standing.

The parents’ attempts to find out more about the mass shootings have failed. Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter Kimberly Vaughan was killed, said she requested a copy of the autopsy report about a month after her death. She received a letter from the Texas Attorney’s Office saying they couldn’t get this information because the case was still under investigation, Hart said.

Shortly after posting details that family members did not previously know, Tabor, 41, said in his apology on Facebook that he made a “stupid post about the shooting” at a Louisiana casino. He was “in party mode” and without any drugs he was taking for alcoholism, he said.

In the public apology, which is no longer online, Tabor stated he was an alcoholic and started binge drinking years ago after his father died. He said he went to rehab last September but forgot to bring his medication to Louisiana.

Tabor previously told the Chronicle that he removed the original post and specifically apologized to a family. He said he planned to resume treatment.

Tabor said he is not a daily drinker and called the episode a “rare occurrence”. He plans to complete a 12-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous, he said, and “hopefully never drink again for a lifetime”.

Moore’s affidavit for the recall was not immediately available to the city. A copy by Moore, 44, states that Tabor has shown misconduct in his role as mayor.

“The misconduct … was harmful to the community and released information about the shooting that was neither accurate nor appropriate,” Moore wrote. “The mayor’s lack of discretion and restraint is not an example of an elected city official and proves that he is emotionally incapable of holding public office.”

If 250 signatures are collected within 45 days, the city will verify that all signatures have been made by registered voters according to the city code. After that, Tabor could request a hearing to present his case.

The issue would then go to the polls during the November 2nd elections. A majority of the votes cast to remove Tabor would result in his position being vacated and not being able to appear on a ballot in the city of Santa Fe within two years of the recall election.

Moore said he believed he would be able to get the 250 signatures despite some problems finding qualified voters. Many people classified in Santa Fe High School live in the unincorporated Santa Fe, which means they can vote in school board elections but not mayoral elections, he said.

Tabor was elected in 2018 and re-elected for him this year with 607 votes, as he ran for election without a dissenting vote.

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