By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen City Council could have a new member Tuesday and nobody knows who it will be.
The deadline for applicants to fill Claudia Brown's seat was 5 p.m. Wednesday, and five applied.
Brown, who represents District 4, announced her resignation May 16, to be effective Tuesday. She will undergo a double-knee replacement Wednesday, and doctors said she will not be able to work for at least six weeks.
Part of the council's pre-meeting workshop agenda Tuesday is to interview the applicants. An ordinance on the regular meeting that night is to appoint a new member. City Attorney Kathy Davis said the council does not need to appoint someone Tuesday, but it has the option to if it reaches a consensus.
Council members said they will have to wait until they interview the applicants before they make a decision.
"It's been pretty quiet," Councilman Kenny Wells said Wednesday night about who will get the appointment.
Councilman Juan Rivera said he will not say who he will support until Tuesday, but it will be tough to say. He served on the council with applicant Otis Evans for a year and personally knows applicant Gladys Casteleiro.
"I'm not going to vote for friends," Rivera said. "I'm voting for the benefit of the citizens."
Rivera did receive a call from Councilman Larry Cole about Evans. Cole said he called Evans upon hearing of Brown's resignation to urge Evans to apply. Cole said that's because he believes Evans would do a good job.
Evans served on the council from May 2006 to May 2008 and was the fourth vote-getter behind the top three winning seats on the council in the May 10 election.
Cole said he called and left a voice message for Rivera and Wells to let them know he planned to support Evans.
"I'm a supporter for Otis, I'm not going to lie to you about it," Cole said. "He's been sitting there for two years; he's a pretty level-headed guy."
Cole said he has not heard of any other discussion about who will support which candidate.
Mayor Pro Tem Fred Latham said he has not had any discussions with other council members about who to appoint.
"I didn't know who applied until I read it in the paper this morning," Latham said on Friday.
Others believe some on the council have made up their minds.
"I don't feel the selection will be a fair selection," Councilman Billy Workman said.
While he could not name who has predetermined their selection for Brown's replacement – and he could not confirm any discussions outside a meeting about it – Workman said he "believes" that the applicants will not get a fair shake. Workman said he feels the other council members will select Evans because he believes Evans may vote the same as the other council members on controversial issues.
"They want to keep the good ol' boys," Workman said, noting he thinks some other council members are "stacking the deck," but could not give names.
Brown said she hopes she gets an opportunity to vote on her replacement. She was not sure if she would be able to make Tuesday's meeting as she will be prepping for surgery. She did say she will not make a decision until she has heard the interviews.
Brown, who has served on the council since May 2007, has been waiting about a year for this knee surgery. Brown said she put it off when she had the opportunity to have it done shortly after she took office. Brown tried to wait.
"I learned if I did not get my knees done, I would lose my hips as well," Brown said, noting she has arthritis.
Brown, who joined the council after running unopposed last year, said she did not want to neglect representing her district for six weeks. She also did not want to miss committee meetings and force the council to make an exception for her.
Brown said she did not consult anybody about her resignation before announcing it. She said she knew it would be difficult to continue being on the council after learning about the rehabilitation process in a class.
"I just knew immediately after the class there was no alternative," Brown said. "They would not allow me to go back to work."
Contact Kevin M. Smith at email@example.com or (254) 501-7550.