Ontario Councilor Freddy Rodriguez. (Rachel Parsons/The Enterprise)

UPDATE Thursday, May 27: Petitioners announced on Facebook that 433 signatures on the petitions have been verified - leaving the effort 61 signatures to go to force a recall election. Watch the Enterprise for new updates.

ONTARIO – The second citizen effort to recall Ontario Councilor Freddy Rodriguez turned in 502 signatures to City Recorder Tori Barnett on Monday, May 17, but petitioners continue to gather signatures.

The milestone prompted Eddy Pearcy-Thiel, leader of the 849-member Facebook group “Citizens Coalition of Ontario and Community,” to go before the Ontario City Council on Tuesday to ask Rodriguez to resign.

“If he really cared about the city, he would step up to the plate and stop this from happening,” said Pearcy-Thiel.

Pearcy-Thiel said in her statement to Rodriguez and the council that a recall vote would cost Ontario more than $10,000 to hold a special election. 

Malheur County Clerk Gayle Trotter confirmed that “it could easily be more.”

A special election will be scheduled only after Trotter verifies that petitions seeking a recall vote carry the needed 494 signatures of Ontario voters.

“Because of the embarrassment to the city and the cost it’s going to cost to the city, I asked for (Rodriguez)’s resignation,” Pearcy-Thiel said. “There was no response. He looked a little shocked.”

“I know that this whole time he really has thought that it’s not gonna happen,” she continued. “I knew that then, he would realize how serious this really is. You know you can’t keep on saying the things he says and think you can get away with it.”

Cydney Cooke, the public face of the recall effort, said that she was “excited to have submitted the minimum requirement.” 

“We are still actively collecting signatures,” she said, “and anxiously awaiting the results.” 

If Trotter determines that the petitioners have met the signature requirement by Monday, June 7, Rodriguez will have five days in which he could resign or instead submit a statement about the recall effort. If he doesn’t resign, a special election to determine his status on the council would held within 35 days of his statement. 

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.

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