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Charges added to election challenge

LIVINGSTON – A hearing involving the plaintiff’s response in the civil lawsuit challenging the results of the May Goodrich City Council election was held last week at the 411th District Court in Livingston.

Earlene “Peach” Williamson has contested the City of Goodrich election, which her brother, Robert Earl Williamson, was defeated by a margin of 26-18. The complaints are against both Goodrich Mayor Jeremy Harper and the City of Goodrich.

The City of Goodrich had its attorney file breach of jurisdiction paperwork with the court two weeks ago. In it, it was pointed out that Williamson does not have the right to contest the election, because she was not the candidate.

According to city attorney Scott Bounds, Williamson has sued the wrong party — Harper — instead of her brother’s opposing candidate, which would have been Evelyn Orozco. She also did not give notice to the secretary of state.

Williamson said that she had researched the law and thought that the mayor was the proper candidate. However, Bounds said she used the wrong provisions in the election code.

The court allowed two weeks for Williamson, who has now hired John D. Stover of Lufkin as council, time to look into Bounds’ motion and respond.

The response has expanded the complaints to include defamation, retaliation and de-annexation, and injury.

Among the complaint of defamation was that the defendants have made and published defamatory statements about Williamson, and that the statements were false and made in complete disregard for the truth. According to the complaint, the defendants were aware or should have been aware that the statements when made were false and made with malice.

Under retaliation and de-annexation, the amended petition says the defendants attempted to de-annex the plaintiff’s property without notice to her, without legal authority, and in retaliation for Williamson filing a lawsuit challenging the unlawful conduct of the city’s election on May 7. It also claims the defendants have publicly made false statements about Williamson and to the reason why they tried to de-annex the plaintiff’s property.

As a result of the defendants’ actions, the plaintiff was injured and has suffered damages within the jurisdiction of this court, according to the document. It states that the defendants abused their power and have violated Williamson’s constitutional rights.

Among the items the plaintiff wishes to recover is a declaration that the attempt to de-annex the plaintiff’s property was void; a declaration that the May 7 election is void; a judgment against defendants; costs of court; and attorney’s fees.

Harper said that since Williamson has expanded the suit, Ray Viada of Conroe has been brought in by the Texas Municipal League to represent the city at no cost to the local taxpayers.