A divided City Council appoints Mayor Pro-Tem Ronnie Wolfe as Interim Mayor, Cm. George Grace as Mayor Pro-Tem, and Wolfe breaks tie leaving Council seat vacant
A divided City Council appoints Mayor Pro-Tem Ronnie Wolfe as Interim Mayor, Cm. George Grace as Mayor Pro-Tem, and Wolfe breaks the tie leaving the vacant seat on the council open.
Timpson City Council held a Special Meeting on Monday, January 4, 2015 at Timpson City Hall to address Mayor Debra Smith’s resignation and the appointment of an Interim Mayor to serve until elections in May 2016.
During the last meeting, Mayor Smith announced her resignation after Cm. Grace, Cwm. Baker, and Mayor Pro-Tem Wolfe voted against an Ordinance that would have permitted the collection of approximately $910,000 in uncollected fines dating as far back as 2004. Mayor Smith’s decision comes after more than a year of council being divided and making sluggish progress on any items. Smith stated, “When your council will not vote to accept Minutes from previous meetings, something is in the way of progress and if that something is me, I will step aside.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Wolfe, called the meeting to order, announced that the Pledge of the United States of America and the Pledge of Allegiance of Texas would be omitted. Wolfe then led prayer, asking for healing of the Council and the city. Wolfe also stated during his prayer, “I ask you Lord to forgive my enemies, even those here in this room that might be an enemy to me, I ask that you forgive them…”
The floor was then given to Mayor Debra Smith who discussed her resignation. Smith stated that she does not consider herself an enemy of Wolfe’s but instead, she feels that they are simply at odds with one another.
Following Smith, Al Skinner and Robin Connell addressed Council.
Skinner addressed Council saying, “Timpson has progressed in last five years more than it ever has. This job takes a special person. There are plenty of people intelligent enough to fill the seat but it’s like a racehorse; it can be the strongest horse but it also has to have the desire. Debra Smith has the ambition to deliver, is in good enough health, and we need to take advantage of that. Lots of people can fill the chair but very few are as a capable.” Skinner also said, “Good men do what they are supposed to do. A great man does those things plus he peals back his own layers and becomes vulnerable.” Skinner asked Council to be willing to become bare, expose themselves, and to do the right thing. Skinner referred to Smith as a “jewel”.
Robin Connell also addressed Council saying, “I know each member of Council personally. I know everyone in this room and we are all friends. We have to work together. I hate that we lost Debra. Debra has done a great job. I don’t see how anyone can have anything bad to say about Debra as Mayor. She has cleaned things up that needed to be cleaned". Connell talked about Mayor Smith sending her a letter that a structure that was previously on the property where Connell’s business, Quick Stop, is located would need to be cleaned up. Connell said this was not something she wanted to do but admitted that it did need to be done. Connell said her first thought was “That building and property belongs to me.” After a cost of $7,000 to Connell, the building was torn down; a decision that ended up being the in the best interest of Connell’s business and the City. Connell discussed how having a business and a lot of money involved is a scary situation when you are counting on a City Council that is “fractured and being petty”. Connell urged Council to reflect on the last year and move forward, saying, "Toes might have been stepped on but those toes may have needed to be stepped on."
The Agenda consisted of five items:
1. Accepting the resignation of Mayor Debra Smith. Cm. Grace made the motion to accept Mayor Smith’s resignation. Cwm. Baker seconded the motion. The motion passed although Cm. Allen and Cwm. Ramsey voted nay.
2. Appointing a new Mayor (Interim). Cwm. Baker made the motion to appoint Mayor Pro-Tem Wolfe. Cm. Grace seconded the motion. Cm. Allen quickly called for discussion but Mayor Pro-Tem Wolfe took the floor, declining the appointment. Wolfe discussed serving on city council for 35 years, teaching school for 46 years, and running for Mayor in the late 90s where he was beaten by 9 votes. Wolfe said, “It was probably best for the town that I was beat… I have no desire to be Mayor of the City of Timpson and do not have the time to serve as Mayor effectively”. Wolfe then made the motion to appoint Marvin Jackson as Mayor; Jackson ran for Mayor in the past. At this point, City Secretary Leslie Leathers, stopped Wolfe, informing Wolfe that an Interim Mayor has to be someone that is currently on Council. Wolfe then rescinded his declination, saying, “I will serve as Mayor until May. I don’t feel like I will have the time to serve as Mayor full-time.” Wolfe also stated, “I guess I will be breaking a lot of ties”. A packed room of citizens quickly spoke up asking Wolfe why he would not appoint another person that does have the time. Wolfe told the citizens that their applause was not allowed, they were not on the agenda to speak, and he would only tell them once that they were out of order. Some citizens replied, “We are not in school and you are not our teacher”. Wolfe then replied, “We will have an orderly meeting”. Cm. Allen made the motion to appoint Cm. Grace as Mayor. Cwm. Ramsey seconded Allen’s motion but Grace quickly declined and once again made a motion to appoint Wolfe as Interim Mayor. The motion carried although Allen and Ramsey voted nay.
3. Appointing a new Mayor Pro-Tem from remaining Council Members. Cm. Allen nominated Cm. Grace for Mayor Pro-Tem. Cwm. Ramsey seconded the motion. Council’s vote was unanimous appointing Grace as the new Mayor Pro-Tem.
4. Appointing someone to fill the vacant seat on the City Council. Wolfe stated that he felt the seat should be left vacant until elections in May. Cm. Allen quickly spoke up asking Council to have an open discussion. Wolfe, Grace, and Baker remained silent, offering no explanation. Cwm. Ramsey suggested nominating Kenny Walker. Cm. Allen seconded the motion. The motion failed with Wolfe breaking the tie where once again, Baker and Grace voted nay. Cwm. Baker then made a motion to leave the seat vacant. Cm. Grace seconded the motion. The motion passed with Wolfe breaking the tie where Allen and Ramsey voted nay.
5. Resolution of Authority for all Austin Bank accounts, removing Mayor Debra Smith, and adding the new Mayor (Interim) and Mayor Pro-Tem. Cm. Grace made the motion to accept the Resolution. Cwm. Baker seconded the motion. The motion carried.
The meeting adjourned just before 6:00 p.m.