Petitions

GENERAL INFORMATION

Alpine citizens may submit initiative petitions, referendum petitions, recall petitions, or charter amendment petitions to propose new ordinances, repeal existing ordinances, remove the mayor or a council member, or propose changes to the charter. The petition process is an inherent home rule power that is reserved for exclusive use by local voters. There is no constitutional or statutory authority for initiative, referendum, or recall. These powers are unique to home rule cities (such as Alpine), and they are not available to voters at any other level of government, including the state.

INITIATIVE

Initiative is a procedure under which local voters directly propose (initiate) legislation. Citizen lawmaking through the initiative process allows local voters to circumvent the city council by direct ballot box action on new ordinances that have some level of support in the community, but which the council declines to enact. Initiative petitions can be made to propose any ordinance, except an ordinance appropriating money, authorizing the levy of taxes, or an ordinance repealing such an ordinance.

The initiative process begins with circulation of a petition setting forth the text of the desired ordinance. The petitioners must then obtain the number of voter signatures needed to compel the city council to submit the ordinance to the people at a citywide election. The City Secretary must check the completed petition and certify it if it meets all charter requirements. If so, the city council has only two options: (1) adopt the proposed ordinance without amendment; or (2) call an election on the ordinance. If, at the election, the proposed ordinance passes by majority vote, the ordinance is put into effect.

Please see Section 7.01 of the City Charter for additional information.

REFERENDUM BY VOTERS

Referendum is a procedure under which local voters can repeal existing ordinances that the council declines to rescind by its own action. The voters of the city have the power to approve or reject any ordinance passed by the Council by referendum, except an ordinance appropriating money, authorizing the levy of taxes, or authorizing the issuance of either tax or revenue bonds, whether original or refunding.

The procedures for compelling the city council to call a referendum election are the same as for initiative elections: a petition calling for an election to repeal a certain ordinance is circulated, the petition is checked and certified if it is sufficient, and the city council must then either repeal the ordinance by its own action or call an election at which the people can vote to repeal it. If a referendum petition has been certified as sufficient by the City Secretary, the ordinance shall not go into effect, or, if it has gone into effect, further enforcement or action thereunder shall be suspended unless and until such ordinance is approved by the voters.

Alpine’s city charter requires that a referendum petition must be filed within 30 days after the final passage of the ordinance which is the subject of the referendum, or the petition shall be barred by the lapse of time.

Please see Section 7.02 of the City Charter for additional information.

RECALL

Recall is a process by which local voters can remove a mayor or members of the city council before the expiration of their terms. The procedures for compelling the city council to order a recall election are the same as for initiative and referendum elections: a petition calling for the recall of a named mayor or council member is circulated, the petition is checked and certified if it is sufficient, and the City Secretary will present the certified petition to the City Council. Once the certified petition is received by the Council, and if the officer whose removal is sought does not resign, then the Council shall order and hold an election to determine whether the officer will be recalled. If the majority vote is for recall, the mayor's or council member’s office is immediately declared vacant. If the majority vote is against recall, the mayor or council member continues in office.

Please see Section 7.08 of the City Charter for additional information, including additional requirements that must be met for an acceptable petition.  

SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS

Each type of petition (initiative, referendum, recall, charter amendment) has a required percentage of qualified voters that must sign the petition (in a valid fashion) for it to be certified sufficient.

Type of Petition

Signatures Required

Initiative

25 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular City election, or 300, whichever is greater.

Referendum

25 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular City election, or 300, whichever is greater.

Recall – Mayor

Number equal to at least 30 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular City election, or 350, whichever is greater.

Recall –
City Council Member

Number equal to at least 30 percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular City election, or 75, whichever is greater.

Charter Amendment

5% of qualified voters of the city or 20,000, whichever number is the smaller.


Questions may be directed to the Office of the City Secretary at (432) 837-3301, option 1, or by email to city.secretary@cityofalpine.com.