Mayor Mark Mathews said he is happy to put the recall election behind him and focus more on making improvements in the city.
Mathews, elected in 2014, was the subject of a recall election on May 7, surviving with almost 54 percent of the 4,000 votes, according to the Tarrant County unofficial election results. A group of residents began circulating a recall petition late last year that accused him of using his position for personal gain, allegations he denied.
For months, name-calling and mudslinging escalated as Mathews fought the recall, calling the group of residents a special interest group that was unhappy with his votes in City Council meetings, while the group continued accusing him of misconduct.
But thanks to a difference of about 300 votes, Mathews is safe. His term ends in May 2017.
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“For me, I’m moving forward,” he said, calling the election results “a great victory for the city.”
“I think the citizens spoke very loudly that they are tired of the divisiveness, the toxic language and bitterness and they don’t want a small group to dictate to the larger group the direction that the city’s going to go,” Mathews said.
Linda Taylor, the spokeswoman for the recall group, said that the small margin between “yes” and “no” votes shows that “the mayor has split the city even further.”
In a city of about 43,000 people, Mathews said the turnout of 4,000 votes is high for a May election, adding that he received about 19 percent more support than when he was elected two years ago.
Mathews will continue serving with City Council, including at least two members -- Debbie Bryan and newly elected Eric Schmidt -- who directly supported the recall.
“(Schmidt) was opposed to me last week, but next week we’re going to be sitting on the Council together,” Mathews said.
He said the differences between elected officials can be a hindrance to progress, but “as an elected official, you need to be able to determine if you want to be a Council person, or do you want to be an activist ... I’ve chosen to keep those two things separate.”
Mathews said that going through the recall process hasn’t changed the way he will serve as mayor, as he refocuses his attention on city business, with the No. 1 priority being economic development, particularly along Keller Parkway.
“We’ve come up with a great marketing strategy to promote Keller,” Mathews said, optimistic about the prospects of continuing to recruit high quality businesses to Keller’s major thoroughfares.
There’s a lot more to work on, Mathews said, as further progress is made in Old Town Keller -- West, Bear Creek Park and the future Sam’s Club, Kroger Marketplace and Hampton Inn, among others.
“Keller’s an amazing place,” Mathews said. “And we’ve got to work together to do these things.”
The runoff election between Ed Speakmon and Mitch Holmes for Place 3 on City Council is set for June 18, according to the city of Keller, but as of Friday, early voting wasn’t set yet.
Speakmon, a former Marine and auto repair businessman, received 43 percent of the vote during the May 7 election, and Holmes got 33 percent. Stephanie Setzer and David Gregoire finished in a distant third and fourth place, but because none of the candidates got more than half the votes, it’ll be settled in the runoff.
The last runoff election for a City Council seat, in December 2014, cost the city more than $21,000.
No recount requested
Incumbent Bill Dodge lost his Place 4 seat on City Council by a narrow margin of 14 votes to Schmidt in the May 7 election, and he has decided to not request a recount.
Dodge received 1,801 votes to Schmidt’s 1,815, according to unofficial Tarrant County election results.
On his campaign Facebook page, Dodge announced his decision and thanked Keller residents and city employees for his experience on council for the last four years.