TEMPLE — Judy Morales, mayor pro tem and District 2 councilwoman, resigned from the City Council on Thursday, hours before a public hearing that was expected to have her removed from office.
Morales announced her decision at an 11 a.m. news conference in the council chambers at the Temple Municipal Building.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am stepping down from the Temple City Council as representative of District 2 and as mayor pro tem of the city of Temple,” Morales said. “I have prayed about this for the last few weeks and believe that this is the best thing to do at this time.
“I love this community and especially District 2 and I feel this is the best action for the good of our entire city. Because this situation has caused dissension and division among the citizens of our community, I want to encourage all citizens to put aside their differences and work together as a community.”
In a news release, Morales said she would decline the District 2 position when elected again in May. She was the only candidate to file for the position, so the election was canceled.
Morales is charged with a misdemeanor offense for reportedly ordering the destruction of public records in response to an open records request by the Temple Daily Telegram.
She also served on the council in violation of a section of the city charter, which states, “No council member shall, during his term of office, hold any other public office or employment, compensation for which is paid out of public funds. … Any knowing or willful violation of this section shall constitute malfeasance in office, and any elected or appointed official, or any employee of the city, guilty thereof shall thereby forfeit his office or position.”
When Morales was elected to the council in 2011, she was employed in a publicly funded position with Bell County’s HELP Center. Morales resigned from that position in last fall in an effort to continue serving on the council.
Following an investigation into allegations she ordered the destruction of public records, Morales took a leave of absence in December.
She rejoined the council in February, saying she wanted to make sure District 2 was represented during the budgeting and planning process.
During a special council meeting Monday, Mayor Danny Dunn and councilmen Perry Cloud, Tim Davis and Russell Schneider asked Morales to resign. At that time, Morales declined to do so, and requested a public hearing at Thursday’s meeting.
That hearing was canceled after Morales announced her resignation.
“I sincerely believe in our justice system and believe it to be fair when all facts are presented,” Morales said. “I also believe that we should not judge others until they have had their opportunity to present their information in court.”
She said she “never lied to anyone regarding this situation and I have never taken money belonging to the city, county or any organization. I have made some mistakes in the past and I have apologized for them.”
Morales thanked her supporters for their prayers and encouragement, saying they were the reason why she had remained on the council.
Dunn and Cloud both said they appreciated Morales’ service on the council and her resignation.
“I respect the decision from Ms. Morales to resign her position as mayor pro tem and District 2 council member,” Dunn said. “It’s a sad day,” Cloud said. “It’s not something I’m excited about, and I consider Judy a friend, and I’m sorry it ended up the way it did, but it was the best thing for the city.”