UPDATE: The Barista involved in the exchange with La Tour on Friday, has posted this open letter to the Alderman on Facebook. To read the original post, click here.
An online petition is calling for the removal of a Fayetteville City Council member now has more than 2,500 signatures.
The group “For Fayetteville” started the change-dot-org petition after ward four alderman John La Tour’s exchange with an employee at Arsaga’s coffee shop Friday.
La Tour, who declined to talk on camera, says he asked an employee if ‘she was a man or a woman’, because the city has an ordinance he says allows people to pick their gender based on how they feel that day.
He claims he asked her because he was going to ask her to dance if she was a woman. He also says he told her he ‘was a man, and could prove it.’
La Tour was asked to leave the restaurant after the exchange. Then he took to Facebook, posting a status stating people should boycott Arsaga’s. He has since taken down that post.
La Tour told KNWA over the phone that he met with the owner of Arsaga’s this morning, and says although they disagree on political issues, they have a good relationship.
And after their meeting this morning, La Tour posted a status on Facebook in support of the restaurant.
KNWA met with people who live in ward four, to find out what they think of their elected representative’s actions.
Mike emery lives in ward four in Fayetteville. He says he couldn’t believe it when he heard about Alderman John La Tour’s comments to a barista at Arsaga’s coffee shop.
“Deeply embarrassed by his actions, because that is not indicative of the citizens of Ward 4,” Emery said.
La Tour told KNWA news he asked the barista if “she was a man or a woman”, then went on to say that “he was a man”, and could prove it.
Now a petition calling for his removal from office, has over 2500 signatures and counting.
“Who knows what’s going to happen with that, but if it does come to that, I would vote to have him removed,” Emery said.
Pine valley resident, Andrew Miles, says La Tour’s actions are unacceptable for an elected official.
“I do think his actions are deplorable. I don’t think public officials should be voicing personal concerns,” Miles said.
Miles says if it were to come to a vote, he’d like to see La Tour out of office.
“I did not vote him, 15 months ago, and I do not support many of his stances, I would like to see a fresher voice, someone who more clearly represents Fayetteville residents,” Miles said.
The group ‘For Fayetteville’ is circulating the online petition on change-dot-org. City Attorney Kit Williams says a petition on change-dot-org would most likely not suffice. They would need to gather signatures on official petition documents
As mentioned, La Tour is the Alderman for Ward Four in Fayetteville. Ward 4 is the west side of town. West of Interstate 49, as far South as Wedington drive, East to Garland Avenue and then along the railroad tracks next to Razorback Road.
Since city Aldermen are elected by the people, only the people can remove them. And more specifically in this case, only the people in La Tour’s ward would have that power.
According to Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams, verified signatures from 25-percent of the registered voters in ward four are needed in order to call a recall election.
That equals about 3,282 voters. Petitioners would have 90 to 105 days before the November elections to get everything in order, and the issue would have to be on the November ballot.
“In this particular case, it would be a very difficult procedure. It’s a fairly new procedure. One that has never been done in Fayetteville before and this recall procedure requires an amazing number of petition signatures,” Williams said.
If enough signatures are gathered in time, the issue would only be on ballots in Ward Four. Voters would vote for or against the removal of the alderman.