Corpus Christi, Front Page, Government and Politics
In light of Monday’s events, it is unclear if Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen will be leading the council today. More importantly, will he continue to be the mayor? According to the January 16, 2017, Caller-Times article, there is no indication from other council members that McQueen is resigning his post. But, what if he did?
Unlike the confusion that occurred when former Councilman Mark Scott resigned so close to the regular election and was a holdover until his replacement was appointed or termed out, the City Charter is quite clear on what will happen. According to Article 2, Section 12, this is what will happen when more than a year is left in the term:
Sec. 12. Vacancy in Office of Mayor. (a) In the event of death, resignation, permanent disability, forfeiture of office, recall or impeachment of the mayor, or if for any reason a vacancy shall exist in the office of mayor, the council member elected at large who received the highest number of votes in the last regular election shall immediately become the mayor, provided that such council member shall not be at that time the subject of any recall petition on file with the city secretary. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event more than one year remains until the next regular city council election or the council member designated to become mayor is the subject of a recall petition on file with the city secretary, a special election shall be called by the then remaining council members to fill the vacancy in the office of mayor, and if there then are no remaining council members such special election shall be forthwith called by the county judge of Nueces County, Texas. (b) Any person who becomes mayor as provided above shall have all the duties and powers of the mayor for the remainder of the unexpired term of the mayor, unless sooner removed as provided in this charter. In the event a council member becomes mayor, the office of the council member shall become vacant, and such vacancy shall be filled as provided in this article.
The “special election” may be similar to the one happening in February in Frisco, Texas, or it could have other stipulations. The Corpus Christi City Attorney and City Secretary would be the local experts on the options the remaining eight Council Members would have as the legislative leaders of a “home rule” city. The Secretary of State offers the context – but not specifics – regarding our City Charter:
If Mayor McQueen remains in office, but the Council decides that his actions warrant removal from office, then City Charter Article 2, Section 11 comes into play. It reads:
Sec. 11. Removal. (a) A council member shall be subject to removal by the council or by any other means authorized by law for: (1) Willful violation of any code of ethics or conflicts of interest provision under state or federal law or city ordinance. (2) Willful violation of any express prohibition of this charter. (3) Misconduct, malfeasance, incompetence, inability or willful neglect in performance of official duties. (4) Conviction of any felony, or any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. (5) Failing to maintain any residency requirement provided by law. (6) Absence from three consecutive regular council meetings without leave of absence first had, except due to circumstances over which the council member had no control. (b) A removal action by the council may be instituted on its own initiative, or shall be instituted upon petition by five or more registered voters, and any final decision to remove a member shall be by the majority vote of all council members holding office, with the exception of the challenged member. The council may provide by ordinance for the referral of any disciplinary matter involving a council member to the ethics commission for recommendation. The challenged member shall have the right to written articles of impeachment, an opportunity to be heard, to be represented by counsel, to summon witnesses who shall be required to give testimony, and to reasonable advance notice of the hearing. The burden of proof shall be on those bringing the charges. The hearing shall be open to the public, and the conclusions and findings of the council shall be final. If the member is removed, a complete statement of the reasons therefor shall be filed with the city secretary. The council shall additionally have the authority to reprimand or suspend a member for a period of not more than thirty days if removal is not warranted. (c) Pending charges for removal, the council may suspend the challenged member from office for a period not exceeding thirty days by the majority vote of all council members holding office, with the exception of the challenged member. (d) Commission of any of the violations specified in sub-paragraphs (1) through (5) above shall additionally be grounds for forfeiture of office in proceedings pursuant to state law. (e) A member who is removed from office, whether pursuant to this section, by recall or other legal proceeding, or who resigns after any such proceedings have been initiated, shall not be eligible to be appointed to or run as a candidate for city office for two years from the date of removal, recall or resignation.
For now, the citizens of Corpus Christi wait to see what happens next as the Council and City Staff carry on with the business of running the city. Today’s regularly scheduled council meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. The agenda can be accessed here.
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