Ontario Councilor Freddy Rodriguez speaks at the Black Lives Matter rally at Ontario City Hall on June 4. (Rachel Parsons/The Enterprise)

The move to recall Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez is moving ahead and signature gathering to force a special city vote could begin soon.

The necessary documents have been filed and accepted at the state Elections Division, said Ontario City Recorder Tori Barnett.

The chief petitioner, Ontario resident Vernon Denison, listed five reasons he is demanding a recall of Rodriguez, who has served in the office since January 2019.

Denison cited Rodriguez’s “Extensive criminal past spanning multiple state[s], which was never revealed during the campaign prior to voting” and said he  is “constantly late for city council meetings.”

He also said in one instance that Rodriguez “bullies, harasses, intimidates” other city councilors and in a second cited such conduct against “businesses, business owners and employees.”

Denison also pointed to the active restraining order a woman recently obtained against Rodriguez “because of a repeating pattern of abuse.”

DOCUMENT: Recall petition

Denison has been notified that the filing was accepted, and Barnett said she waiting to hear from him regarding a meeting to complete the next steps in the process.

Erin Maloney-Denison, the petitioner’s wife who is working with him on the recall effort, said he expects to meet with Barnett Tuesday afternoon.

Maloney-Denison she and her husband filed a signature sheet and cover sheet, which Barnett approved.

 “We will get paperwork to start signatures and go from there,” she said.

Maloney-Denison is employed by the Ontario businesswoman who had dated Rodriguez and subsequently obtained a restraining order barring him from having contact with her.

Denison is a retired truck driver who has lived in Ontario for 30 years.

He registered a statement of organization for petition committee with the Oregon Secretary of State.

Maloney-Denison said she has been a victim of domestic violence and previously sought the services of Project Dove in Ontario.

“I feel strongly about abusers and people who have a past of domestic violence,” said Maloney-Denison. “I think there should be some sort of a vetting process when it comes to running for city council.”

The petition requires 493 signatures – 15% of the number of city voters who voted in the last gubernatorial – to force a recall election that could remove Rodriguez from office.

Only signatures of active registered voters in Ontario can be counted for the petition, and an adequate number of signatures must be verified by Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter.

Once signatures are verified, Rodriguez can either resign or submit a statement for voters about the recall. A special city election would then be scheduled.

This is a developing story.

PRIOR REPORTING:

Petitioner files paperwork, clock is running on getting signatures to recall Rodriguez

Local citizen starts petition process to recall Ontario City Councilor Rodriguez

Judge rules Ontario city councilor is credible threat to former girlfriend, imposes year-long order

Rodriguez, Ontario city councilor, has new contacts with police over disputes, records show

Rodriguez, Ontario city councilor embroiled in restraining orders, has prior domestic violence history

Ontario city councilor obtains restraining order against ex-girlfriend

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