TEMPLE — Temple’s mayor pro tem has rejected her fellow City Council members’ demands that she step down from office.
Mayor Danny Dunn and council members Perry Cloud, Tim Davis and Russell Schneider asked Mayor Pro Tem and District 2 Councilwoman Judy Morales to resign during a special council meeting Monday, but Morales refused and asked for a public hearing to be held during Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
The public hearing will be held in conjunction with the meeting that begins at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Council Chambers at 2 N. Main St.
“All of the council members as individuals asked Ms. Morales to resign, and she declined to do so, so we will have a public hearing and possibly decide to remove her for good cause,” Dunn said.
The city charter does not define what good cause is, noted Deputy City Attorney Kayla Landeros, adding that the council would have to determine that.
Dunn asked the other council members if they agreed that Morales’ actions could be defined as good cause, and Cloud, Davis and Schneider agreed.
“This has made it increasingly difficult to do the city’s business,” Dunn said. “There are things she has told us that were untrue, and she offered to resign if this turned negative, which I’d say it has.
“This has split the city apart. You have people who are Judy supporters and people who are not. You have people who support (other council members) and those who want us removed.”
Council members offered reasons why they wanted Morales to resign.
“Judy, it does sadden me to be here today (in the special meeting),” Davis said. “But no one is above the law, and we must be above reproach.
“We as council members must be able to trust each other and I do not trust you. On two specific instances you were not truthful with me. Your actions have shown you have only your best interests at heart, and I ask you to resign immediately.”
Morales affirmed her intent to remain on the council.
“It is a very difficult situation we are facing now,” she said.
“I resumed my seat (on council) because of citizen requests. Serving the residents of Temple and particularly of District 2 is first and foremost.
“For 41 years I’ve been working with the poor and trying to make the community better, and I’ve worked hard the last 2½ years to make District 2 better. It’s been ignored for years and capital improvements have not been made.
“The East Temple master plan is the first step in beginning that process. If I leave my seat, District 2 will be left unrepresented and that’s unfair to the district.” A lot of factors remain, Morales said, adding that the complaint against her hasn’t gone to trial.
“But you have admitted your guilt to us on multiple occasions,” Dunn said.
“There are major issues I’m concerned about the city that I don’t think you want me to bring forward today, and I won’t,” Morales said.
Although the council may decide to remove Morales from office, she is running unopposed for the District 2 council post in the May 10 election, and is automatically the candidate-elect.
Unless she sends a letter of declination or resigns, she could again take the oath of office at the May 14 meeting, and it would take another public hearing and council vote to remove her from office.
If Morales does resign or is removed again in May, the city will have 120 days to hold a special election to fill the District 2 seat.