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'The mayor must go'; Citizens upset and unruly after council vote

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WILMER – “The mayor must go” was the loudest chant from the crowd of citizens escorted out of the council chambers in Wilmer, Thursday, May 19.

Infuriated with the decisions the council was making, residents started shouting out addressing the mayor and council during action items on the agenda.

 Mayor Jeff Steele gave notice to citizens before asking police to escort the unruly out of the council chambers.

Most left without asking, “p***** off” and saying “the mayor doesn’t listen.” 

The meeting opened with moving an action item up to the top of the list accepting the resignation of Vicky Vandygriff.

Vandygriff lost re-election Saturday, May 14 by more than 70 votes.

Following Vandygriff’s resignation, Councilwoman Marlena Dyess made a motion to place Jean Landrum to fulfill the rest of Vandygriff’s term.

Landrum will be on council until the votes are canvassed and the oaths of office are accepted on Tuesday, May 24, by City Secretary Alice Holloway.

Councilman Matias Leal also resigned.

“He told me after the election results he was going to resign,” said Steele.

Vandygriff, after just resigning, was appointed by the council unanimously to fulfill the remainder of Leal’s term to the mixed crowd of booing and cheering.

“There was no group discussion,” said Steele about the vote.

“I spoke to each one of them individually.”

According to local election code for general law type A cities, it’s legal for such an action to take place.

Sec. 22.010.  FILLING VACANCY ON GOVERNING BODY OR IN OTHER MUNICIPAL OFFICE.  (a)  If for any reason a single vacancy exists on the governing body of the municipality, a majority of the remaining members, excluding the mayor, may fill the vacancy by appointment unless an election to fill the vacancy is required by Article XI, Section 11, of the Texas Constitution.  The mayor may vote on the appointment only if there is a tie.

The law also states: RESIGNATION OF ELECTED OR APPOINTED MUNICIPAL OFFICER.  A municipal officer elected or appointed under this chapter may resign by submitting the resignation in writing to the governing body of the municipality.  The resignation is subject to the approval and acceptance of the governing body.  However, a person who is appointed by the mayor may submit the written resignation to the mayor for the mayor’s action.

There are special circumstances, for the people to vote on appointment, but only if there is no one willing to fill the vacancy. 

“She [Vandygriff] has shown leadership in the last two years and her values are immensely important to the city as a leader,” said Steele.

“I assure you, everything has been done by the letter of the law to the T.”

According to city officials, nobody has contested the votes this year, the first in a two year history.

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