By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen Councilman Ernest Wilkerson officially stepped down from his District 4 seat Thursday. The move was announced in an email addressed to fellow councilmen Thursday morning and confirmed via a phone interview with the Killeen Daily Herald.
Wilkerson said his resignation is not in response to a recall looming against him and five other council members. It's related to his family.
"The financial realities of college-age children and a decade of public service led me to a long overdue transition in my career," Wilkerson said in his email.
Wilkerson said he is currently doing contract work at Fort Hood and is licensed to sell insurance. He previously worked at Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home.
"It was just time for me to start focusing on my family," he said.
In May, Wilkerson was re-elected after the council declared his position uncontested. He was sworn in May 24.
Wilkerson's resignation comes after one meeting and one workshop. He said he may again run for a council seat in the future.
According to the city charter, the remaining council members can fill the vacancy by approving a new council member by majority vote. Killeen spokeswoman Hilary Shine said the city is currently researching the possible effects of the vacancy.
Councilman Larry Cole said Wilkerson's resignation is surprising and shocking.
"I have no idea what was in his mind nor that he was considering it," Cole said. "He was just elected."
Cole said Wilkerson's resignation, and other current situations facing the council, will not stall the city from moving forward.
"The city is still moving forward; the city staff is still moving forward," he said.
Councilman Kenny Wells said he didn't hear the news until late Thursday when he got off an airplane and checked his phone.
"Ernest Wilkerson was, and is, a good friend of mine and my thoughts and prayers are with him whatever the circumstances," Wells said.
Still settling into his new position as District 3 councilman, Terry Clark acknowledged he saw the email.
"I received the email he sent out just like everybody else," he said. "Surprised isn't the word I used. I wish Mr. Wilkerson the best in his future endeavors and I know he's very dedicated to his family."
The resignation means councilmen Juan Rivera, Cole, Wells, Billy Workman and Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Cosper are left to face the recall effort alone.
With five of seven council members left from when he started, recall movement organizer Jonathan Okray said he at first didn't know what to think.
"Two down, five to go," he said. "So we'll just see. As far as the other council members, it's up to their conscience as to what they're going to do."
Wilkerson said he plans to stay in Killeen and continue serving the community as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Killeen and working with the March of Dimes Alpha project.
"I'll continue to serve in the city and make Killeen the great place I know it should be," he said. "The last 10 years I've dedicated my service to the citizens of Killeen. Now it's time for me to dedicate my service to my wife and my children."
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.