By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
District 3 Councilman Terry Clark was sworn in Tuesday, just after seven Killeen City Council members were officially notified they are subject to be recalled from their positions if they don't resign.
The notifications occurred during the council's regular workshop, in which the city certified the recall petitions against the council members.
Clark sat in the audience while City Attorney Kathy Davis briefed the council on the recall process put into effect by hundreds of residents who signed petitions to oust them from office.
"If you do not resign in that five-day period, the City Council is required to call a recall election," Davis said. "So the clock for at least the five of you here starts today."
Except for Clark, the clock started Tuesday for the council members to resign. If they choose not to do so, residents can vote to remove them from office in the Nov. 8 election. If successful, this will mark the first time in the city's 129-year history a council member has been recalled.
If an election must be called for, such a decision will be placed on the agenda for a June 14 council meeting, she added.
"If any one of you chooses not to resign, then the election will have to be held in November," she said. "I know the charter says the election has to be held in 30 to 60 days of certification, but state law trumps our charter and state law says the only days that we can have elections are on the two uniform election days."
The next available uniform election day is Nov. 8.
Legal questions still surround the recall, such as whether the recall still applies to Councilmen Juan Rivera, Kenny Wells and Ernest Wilkerson, who were recently reseated to their districts after uncontested elections. It won't apply to JoAnn Purser, who is no longer a councilwoman after losing her seat to Clark.
According to the city charter, residents can't file a petition in the first six months of a new term, or within the first six months of a failed recall election. However, it does not ban recall elections during that time period.
"Our charter only talks about when the petition can be filed," Davis said. "So it's silent as to the issue of whether a subsequent re-election nullifies this current petition and I know it's a very good legal question. Unfortunately it is question not answered by our charter. As the attorney, all I can do is go by the black and white that is written in the charter."
If such an issue were taken up with a court, a district judge would have to decide, she added.
According to the charter, if the council doesn't order an election, a district judge will also have to intervene and order it.
Clark, others sworn in
About 50 people were in attendance at the council's regular meeting where at the end, Clark was sworn in alongside Wells, Wilkerson and Rivera. Mayor Tim Hancock gave former Purser a plaque and thanked her for her service during the past two years.
With Clark taking his seat, the council then voted to reinstate Councilman Scott Cosper for his third consecutive term as mayor pro tem by a vote of 4-3.
"It is tremendous honor to be allowed to serve in the mayor's absence and to assist the mayor, which is the most important thing I do," Cosper said. "The mayor has a very demanding job and I am here for him when attending meetings or just standing in.
Hancock, Cole, Wells and Rivera approved Cosper's nomination, while Clark, Wilkerson and Workman voted against the decision. Clark, in his first act as a council member, nominated Workman instead.
Clark declined to comment after the meeting concluded.
"I've been on council a long time," Workman said. "I should have been the mayor pro tem a long time ago, but I'm not a part of their clique and when you don't go along with things, you know how the numbers are, you see how this council is stacked."
During the meeting, Workman said he hoped the mayor would stay on throughout the remainder of his term.
"We want the mayor to stay on board until the end of his term," Workman said afterward. "I hope he doesn't step down and allow Mr. Cosper to become mayor by proxy and possibly run for City Council. I hope that is not the case."
Hancock could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.