A petition effort by the Ector County GOP to force a city-wide vote on whether to pass a $95 million bond to rehabilitate the city’s current water plant has been thrown out after the group failed to collect enough valid signatures.
According to information provided by the Ector County Elections Office on Friday, only 2,155 out of 3,245 signatures submitted by the local GOP group were found to be valid. A minimum of 2,923 signatures were needed to place the bond issue on the November ballot.
“This is a major victory for the city,” District 2 councilman Steve Thompson said.
Thompson said the petition defeat paves the way for council to approve certificates of obligation to pay for the water treatment project.
GOP Chair Tisha Crow, who spearheaded the petition effort, did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment.
Mayor Javier Joven, who supported a citywide vote, could not be reached for comment.
The issue has been a contentious one among city council members and a small, but vocal contingent led by Crow.
District 5 councilwoman Mari Willis said now that the petition effort has been defeated; she hopes the city can move forward.
“Hopefully now we can move on with the business of the City, which is what we were elected to do,” Willis said. “Thank you to the citizens of Odessa who trust us to hopefully move forward on this very critical issue. As always, I am always open and available to visit with citizens.”
Several council members earlier this week criticized Crow publicly, accusing her of spearheading a petition drive they say was riddled with inaccurate information, hyperbole and unethical behavior.
Crow and other bond supporters had said they aren’t opposed to the water treatment project; they just didn’t think COs should be used. They also believed voters should determine the issue, not council.
City administrators have said the 60-year-old water treatment plant is in dire need of repairs and upgrading, and warn the system could fail at any time, potentially leaving thousands of Odessans without water.
The proposed rehabilitation project would include extensive upgrades to the current plants electrical and computer systems, chemical feed and filter systems and chemical storage facility, Public Works Director Tom Kerr has previously told council.
According to their agenda for Tuesday’s work session, council will vote on whether to proceed with the certificates of obligation to fund the water treatment project.