Patriots submit petition signatures to city

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Clovis City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon numbers petitions filed Monday by the High Plains Patriots. If 456 signatures are verified, the petitions will force a special election for an area Affordable Housing Plan. Melancon said verification should be complete by Wednesday.

Kevin Wilson

The High Plains Patriots Citizens group turned in petitions to force a special election on the affordable housing plan passed last month by the Clovis City Commission.

The signatures still have to be verified as coming from registered Clovis voters, but group president Kim Runyan said a check was done on signatures before the Monday afternoon filing, using county voter rolls, to self-verify more than the required 456 signatures.

“We verified 101 over, so it was 557,” Runyan said. “I don’t know how many we turned in, but I know that was the number we verified.”

The city charter allows citizens to petition for a referendum election on any ordinance within 30 days of passage, with a requirement set at 20 percent turnout from the previous municipal election.

Monday was the first business day following the 30th day since the Clovis City Commission passed the affordable housing plan on a 6-1 vote in its May 5 meeting.

City Clerk LeighAnn Melancon said city staff will start the verification process Tuesday morning, and she expects the process to be finished Wednesday afternoon. The city will only verify enough signatures to exceed the requirements by 50 to 100 signatures.

The city went through a similar process when a gross receipts tax increase went to a referendum vote, also via a petition sponsored by the High Plains Patriots.

Should the required number of signatures be verified, the commission would be required to schedule an election within 60 days of the filing — Aug. 6 at the latest.

The affordable housing plan is an amendment to the state’s anti-donation clause, which otherwise says a city cannot, “directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.” Cities, including Clovis, have created a similar amendment for economic development ventures.

Randy Crowder, who was the lone dissenting vote, cited troubles with taxpayer dollars going to private industries that would build affordable housing.