Goliad to hold special election to fill 2 vacancies

Sara  Sneath By Sara Sneath

July 22, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.
Updated July 23, 2014 at 2:23 a.m.

Despite four city officials resigning within a week, Goliad Mayor Anna Lopez Machacek sticks by her actions, which she said have been in the name of transparency and bringing new ideas to Goliad.

A special election, which may cost the city about $3,000, will be held in November to fill two council member positions, said City Secretary Pam Long. Those positions will go up for election again in May.

The city attorney and city administrator positions will be discussed at the next regularly scheduled council meeting in August, Machacek said.

Machacek attempted to avoid a special election by calling a meeting to seat two new council members Monday night. But her plans were foiled when the two council members who turned in resignation letters last week, Buddy Zavesky and Lionel Garcia, did not show up at the called meeting, which required a supermajority to hold.

Zavesky said he was not advised of the meeting and was working at his full-time job Monday night.

"I'm not coming in to vote on my own resignation when I quit the week before," Zavesky said.

After it was determined there were not enough council members to hold a called meeting Monday night, City Attorney Ashford Taylor resigned.

"The issue that I brought up was that we did not have a quorum for a called meeting based upon the statute," Taylor said.

The statute Taylor brought a printed copy of Monday night read that while a majority of aldermen constitute a quorum during a scheduled meeting, a called meeting requires a supermajority, or two-thirds the number of aldermen. Taylor found the statute Friday and anticipated discussing the issue with the mayor - had she sought his advice, he said.

Taylor went to the called meeting Monday with the intent to resign.

"I was beginning to be seen as an adversary. I would come to the council with a legal opinion, and I've been told that I need to brush up on my reading of the code, which I did, and I think it's pretty obvious from last night," Taylor said.

Last month, the City Council voted 3 to 2 to bring on Barney Knight, the interim city attorney for Corpus Christi, as a mentoring attorney to Taylor.

"When they brought in the new mentoring attorney, I was never told what my shortcomings were. No faults were ever pointed out," Taylor said.

Machacek said the mentoring attorney was a means to bring in outside ideas, which she thinks are necessary to solve the city's budgeting woes. Her conversations with Victoria's mayor and city manager and a Port Lavaca finance officer were also an attempt to find operational ideas and ways to make a more detailed budget, Machacek said.

"I can't bring anything new to Goliad if I don't go outside of Goliad and see how they're working elsewhere," Machacek said. "It wasn't to say that I didn't want to work with the people I had. We know that there were issues. That's what made me want to run to start with - was to hopefully help things get better. Well, if there were issues here, the only way to bring in something new is to go out and look to see how it works elsewhere."

Knight said he has used a 15- to 20-year-old attorney general decision to get around the need for a supermajority and seat council members before. But he advised the Goliad council to hold the elections because of the evident division on the issue.

"That's the best way: to take the high road and hold the election," Knight said.

Taylor's first day as city attorney was Feb. 1.

"My reasoning for approaching the position was one, that I'm originally from Goliad; I wanted to give back to the city. I wanted to help and nothing really more," Taylor said.

Machacek said she, too, sought out her current position to help Goliad, which includes making the city's budgeting process more detailed and transparent.

"Sometimes, cleaning up a mess is messy in itself," Machacek said.



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