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Sulphur Springs Council To Appoint New Member, New Mayor Friday

Only three people remain on the seven-place Sulphur Springs city council.
Cindy Roller
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Only three people remain on the seven-place Sulphur Springs city council.

A chaotic couple of weeks in Sulphur Springs municipal government is expected to conclude on Friday with a special meeting of the city council. The city’s governing body is charged with the task of keeping municipal government functioning in the aftermath of four resignations from the seven-person Sulphur Springs city council.

Mayor Norman Sanders, who also holds Place 3 on the council, submitted a resignation letter last Thursday, the Sulphur Springs News-Telegram reported. Mayor Pro Tempore Erica Armstrong (Place 1), councilman Jimmy D. Lucas (Place 2), and councilman Jeff Sanders (Place 5), turned in letters of resignations of Monday, the News-Telegram said.

Texas Government Code requires four votes for a quorum on the council. The agenda for Friday’s meeting calls for the active three council members – Freddie Taylor (Place 5), Doug Moore (Place 6) and John Sellers (Place 7) – to appoint a fourth person to the council so that the body might be capable of quorum.

City manager Marc Maxwell told the News-Telegram that selecting a new council member should work “much like a committee appointment.” Maxwell also said that the council could appoint people to fill all four vacancies, but are expected to just one and leave the remaining places vacant until the next municipal election. “… We don’t want to be over-reaching,” Maxwell said.

City attorney Jim McLeroy told Sulphur Springs-based KSST-AM that once quorum is possible, the council will then select a mayor and a mayor pro tempore to serve until the next municipal election, the date of which is also expected to be chosen at Friday’s meeting. The election is expected to happen in May 2020, to coincide with the expiration of the terms of some of the remaining council members.

Neither Maxwell nor McLeroy gave local media names of any people who might be interested in or under consideration for the lone council vacancy expected to be filled Friday.

On Dec. 3, the Sulphur Springs city council held an extended closed session discussing the employment status of Maxwell. Following the meeting, the council announced that no action on Maxwell’s status would be taken as a result of the meeting.

The News-Telegram reported that during a public comment period that followed that announcement, seven people spoke supporting Maxwell’s continued employment, while none spoke in opposition. About 100 people were present, the News-Telegram said.

The city manager is not an elected official, but is instead a city employee who reports to the council. Under Texas employment law, a city manager may be fired at any time for any legal reason or no given reason.  

None of the resigning officials would respond to requests from the News-Telegram and KSST-AM to describe the reasons for their resignations. McLeroy declined to a request from the News-Telegram to discuss the reasons for the resignations. Maxwell told the News-Telegram that he is “not aware of any reasons” and that “anything else is conjecture.”

The meeting has been scheduled for noon Friday, Dec. 13, in the Council Room at City Hall, located at 201 N. Davis St.