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Rosenberg Treasure of the Month: July 2018 - Galveston's July 1987 Recall Vote

Updated 347 days ago

During the month of July, Rosenberg Library is exhibiting two political signs from the recall vote which took place in Galveston in July 1987. The signs were collected and donated to the library by Lise Darst.

In the spring of 1987, a group of Galveston residents organized a committee, “We the People,” in reaction to the city’s adoption of a new trolley car system. These individuals contended that the trolley primarily benefitted tourists, not tax-paying residents. Further, they questioned the decision to focus on the trolley project rather than hiring additional police officers and improving local roads. “We the People” created a petition to recall the Mayor of Galveston (Jan Coggeshall) and four members of the City Council (Barbara Crews, Steve Greenberg, Sonny Nelson, and John Sullivan). The group successfully secured enough signatures to schedule a formal vote in which citizens could cast their ballots for or against removing the mayor and council members from office, each on an individual basis.

Vote For Recall

An opposing group, “C.A.R.E.” (Citizens Against the Recall Election), urged Galveston residents to go to the polls to vote against recalling any of the city’s leaders. “C.A.R.E.” argued that citizens had not spoken out against the trolley project when it was first proposed, and that the city leaders were justified in moving forward with a project that had initially been supported by residents. They were also concerned with the costs and disruption associated with a recall vote.

Vote No

The recall vote was held on July 11, 1987. More than 8,600 residents showed up to the polls to cast their votes for or against recalling the mayor and individual council members. In the end, all five city leaders retained their positions, as the majority of voters opposed their removal from office.

The Galveston recall vote of 1987 garnered national attention, with both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times covering the local story.

The Treasure of the Month is located on the library’s second floor near the East Entrance.  It can be viewed during regular library hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  For more information, please contact the Museum Office at 409-763-8854 x. 125 or visit us on the web at Rosenberg Library's website.

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