Citing concerns with governance on the dais among other issues, a former Kyle elected official is supporting a resident’s initiative aiming to recall the city’s mayor.
Shane Arabie, a former Kyle city council member who stepped down from his seat in February, said he is supporting resident Peter Parcher’s petition to recall Mayor Travis Mitchell and city council member Rick Koch.
Both men worry Mitchell and Koch don’t have the city’s best interests at heart, based on a variety of decisions made in recent months.
The Hays Free Press reached out to Mitchell and Koch for comment on this story. Mitchell declined to comment, while Koch did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
Parcher said he began thinking about getting a petition started for “several months.” Only within the past few weeks has Parcher started the attempt to obtain signatures for the petition.
Per the Kyle city charter, residents reserve the right to recall any elected official provided they obtain a petition with at least 15 percent of the number of registered voters in Kyle. If enough signatures are obtained, residents can then file a petition with the city secretary, who determines if the petition is sufficient before taking it to the city council for a vote on whether or not to call a special recall election.
Parcher said he must obtain 3,403 signatures for his petition. If successful, the petition would be the first recall attempt in Kyle since citizens attempted to oust late Mayor James Adkins in 2003.
Parcher did not disclose how many signatures he has at this time but said there were 22 people who are collecting signatures as of Sept. 3.
“I don’t like doing this type of thing, but over the past several months, he’s (Mitchell) been showing he doesn’t have the best interest of Kyle at heart,” Parcher said.
Parcher said one reason for starting the petition came after Mitchell allegedly attempted to force a vote on a request for proposal (RFP) for a five-story municipal complex in Plum Creek in July.
Parcher said he has reached out to Mitchell in the past regarding his concerns, but alleged Mitchell “tried to bully me into another opinion” or “flat out lied to me.”
Mitchell said he has tried to reach out and have “reasonable discussions” with those who have started the petition but said they have shown “they are not interested” in talking.
However, Mitchell didn’t comment on when he last spoke to anyone associated with the petition.
Arabie, along with his wife, Hope, opted to give their support based on a “shift in policy” from Mitchell in recent years. Arabie alleged Mitchell began making unilateral decisions on some items instead of working with or talking with other city leaders. He also said he felt Koch is “uninformed.”
Arabie cited Mitchell’s alleged use of monies from Kyle’s city council budget for continuing education to go with City Manager Scott Sellers to visit several cities in the Dallas area. Those visits were part of a proposal for the Uptown concept, a mixed-use development planned for areas in Plum Creek.
“So much was going on behind the scenes that no one on council was aware of. That’s not what we’re based off of, that’s not the way any city entity is meant to run,” Arabie said. “It was destructive and painful to watch.”
Arabie, who was Kyle’s Mayor Pro Tem before stepping down, also grew frustrated at Mitchell placing items on the agenda without the opportunity for other elected leaders to understand them.
Arabie alleged that Mitchell tried to change the city charter without having any substantial input from other city leaders. That included changes regarding council compensation. Another note of contention was the timeframe that the proposal was put forth, only a couple of weeks before the state-mandated ballot deadline.
Arabie argued that he and other city leaders did not have time to view the changes. The charter change ultimately led to city leaders approving a 900 percent city council pay increase in 2019.
“When you put things up intentionally so they (people) cannot be informed, that’s a problem,” Arabie said.
Shane and Hope both feel the petition is an open forum for discussion on issues the city is facing.
Parcher said while he aims to get enough signatures for a possible election, he also wants to stir discussion regarding Koch and Mitchell, who are “not serving us properly” and are not listening to citizens.
“I want to get people involved in how the city is run and get them out there to talk to their representatives, so we can have a true representation in Kyle,” Parcher said.