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

ONTARIO – Petitioners have abandoned their effort to force a city vote to recall Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez, saying they couldn’t gather the necessary signatures.

Petitioner Vernon Denison, a retired truck driver from Ontario, launched the recall effort in August. He had until Monday, Oct. 26, to submit 493 signatures of registered voters – 15% of the number of city voters who voted in the last gubernatorial race. That would have forced a special election to decide whether to remove Rodriguez from office.

Erin Maloney-Denison, the petitioner’s wife who worked with him on the recall effort, said that the pandemic and wildfires disrupted the effort to gather signatures.

“We just weren’t able to get enough signatures,” Maloney-Denison said. “We were trying right up until the end.”

She said she and her husband still think Rodriguez should leave the council.

“He has no business being in there,” Maloney-Denison said.

The recall effort followed reports by the Enterprise that traced Rodriguez’s arrests in Idaho in cases related to domestic violence. They occurred before he moved to Ontario, where he was elected to the Ontario City Council in 2018.

Idaho court records show that the charge in one Idaho criminal case was dismissed in 2010 after he attended court-ordered treatment. He pleaded guilty in a second case that same year, and was sentenced to 24 months of probation and required to attend a 52-week domestic battery treatment program, according to Canyon County court records.

In June, Malheur Circuit Judge Erin Landis issued a restraining order directing Rodriguez to have no contact with a woman who said in court filings that Rodriguez “made me fear that I was about to be physically injured.” The Enterprise does not identify victims of abuse.

In his petition, Denison cited five reasons to recall Rodriguez, including his “extensive criminal past spanning multiple state[s], which was never revealed during the campaign prior to voting” and that he is “constantly late for city council meetings.”

Denison also claimed in his petition that Rodriguez “bullies, harasses, intimidates” other city councilors and engaged in such conduct against “businesses, business owners and employees.”

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