Martindale down two council members
By Wesley Gardner
Two Martindale city councilmembers resigned from their positions in the last month, leaving the city in a precarious position during a time that is normally devoted to ironing out the city’s budget.
Martindale’s governing body consists of five councilmembers and a mayor. Under Texas law, council meetings cannot be held unless a quorum — a majority of the body’s members – is present, meaning the remaining three councilmembers and Mayor Robert Deviney must all be present for any scheduled meetings to take place.
Further, because of the two vacant positions, Deviney said the city has lost the ability to schedule special meetings, which would have normally been called to conduct budget workshops. Martindale currently only has one scheduled meeting per month.
On June 24, Councilmember Mary Paul submitted a formal letter of resignation.
“With great pondering, I have decided it is time to resign as Place 5 Martindale City Council Member,” said Paul. “I am submitting this after the Wednesday 5:00 pm deadline to give the Council a month to decide what the right thing to do would be.
“I have grown to understand, embrace, and love the town of Martindale even more. Thank you for the good and the challenging times.”
According to Deviney, the city had the ability to appoint a replacement to fill Paul’s position until it expired in 2021.
“The recommendation was to go ahead and accept this thing and then try to appoint somebody in a hurry, because if you have quorum issues, you can’t have meetings,” said Deviney.
“The city’s ability to function begins to wane.”
The appointment was discussed at a specially called meeting following Paul’s departure, but councilmembers couldn’t come to an agreement on an appointee, so the item was pushed to their next regularly scheduled meeting’s agenda.
The meeting, which was scheduled for July 7, could not be held because a quorum of the city council wasn’t present.
On July 8, Councilmember Mike McClabb, who was among the members not present for the July 7 meeting, submitted his formal letter of resignation.
“Due to the current internal tensions on the Martindale City Council I am formally submitting my letter of resignation as a protest on the way that Place 5 council seat was planning to be filled,” said McClabb. “My vision of Martindale is different than several other members of this council and the mayor.”
McClabb added that he only received one applicant to review to replace Paul, stating he knew of three other individuals who submitted applications that he did not receive.
While McClabb and Councilmembers Lisa Shell-Allan and Sonja Gonzales Villalobos’ positions were already on the November General Election ballot, Paul’s term wasn’t set to expire until 2021, meaning the city will have to call a special election to fill her seat that will coincide with the November election.
Deviney said because the Martindale was already going to be involved in the November election, adding a special election will only entail minor additional costs for the city.
Concerning budget workshops, Deviney said councilmembers will have the opportunity to vote for a resolution next month that will allow the city to have two regularly called meetings a month instead of one.
Deviney did cite one positive effect that resulted from the resignations.
“The good news out of all of this was that there was an outpouring of new city-minded individuals [seeking to fill Paul’s vacancy],” said Deviney. “Some of them have been bouncing around the council meetings and the like and keeping up, but some of them just flat came out of the woodworks, which I thought was a positive sign for the city.
“It gives other people who have watched from periphery an opportunity to participate, and I think that’s a good thing.”