Councilmember’s eligibility to serve in office questioned

A city commissioner’s eligibility to continue to serve was questioned during the public forum at Monday’s (Nov. 18) City of Slaton Council’s meeting.

Commissioner Ward II and Mayor Pro-Tem Lynn Nowlin moved out of her Ward in June.

Anthony Aguirre, a Lubbock resident and mayoral candidate John Gatica’s campaign manager, raised several issues.

“It turns out that Lynn has been living in downtown Slaton since June 1 of this year and had property here in the City of Slaton in the Ward she was elected to,” he said. “This became a concern to me because I wanted to make sure that the City Council had representation in a single member district appropriately.”

Aguirre added he contacted the Texas Ethics Commission, district attorney’s office and others on the issue, as well as read the city charter.

He said he believes a commissioner must be a resident of the Ward and that after Nowlin moved, she was no longer eligible to serve in the same seat.

“Therefore (we) request that position be vacated and that it be open for a special election to fill that Ward and that Lynn step down immediately from her position,” he added.

Nowlin did not respond to the inquiry because city rules prohibit commissioners from addressing issues raised during public forum.

City Attorney Harvey Morton said he had researched the issue under the request of City Administrator Mike Lamberson.

He said residency requirements were an open question and it wasn’t clear under the state laws; however, the charter states that when a commissioner moved outside the city limits of Slaton itself, they would forfeit their seat.

“The charter provision that controls this is one that we looked at sometime about 1980, 1985 because I proposed to the council then that we rewrite the charter,” he said, adding the current charter was modeled after City of Dallas charter, which written for a city the size of Dallas, not Slaton.

Since the charter was adopted, the residency question came up for a vote, but was left intact after the ballots were counted.

“The people of Slaton said they didn’t want to change a thing,” he said, adding that because of its age, there could be problems with the existing charter.

No action was taken during the meeting.

Additional details will appear in a future issue of The Slatonite.

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