On Tuesday, June 4 Constable Rick Luna, Precinct 3 announced his intention to run for Atascosa County Sheriff on his Facebook page and then on June 5, in the Pleasanton Express. This announcement triggered an automatic resignation from his position due to the “Resign to Run” rule contained in Article 16, Sec. 65 of the Texas Constitution.
The rule states:
AUTOMATIC RESIGNATION ON BECOMING CANDIDATE FOR ANOTHER OFFICE. (a) This section applies to the following offices: District Clerks; County Clerks; County Judges; Judges of the County Courts at Law, County Criminal Courts, County Probate Courts and County Domestic Relations Courts; County Treasurers; Criminal District Attorneys; County Surveyors; County Commissioners; Justices of the Peace; Sheriffs; Assessors and Collectors of Taxes; District Attorneys; County Attorneys; Public Weighers; and Constables. (b) If any of the officers named herein shall announce their candidacy, or shall in fact become a candidate, in any General, Special or Primary Election, for any office of profit or trust under the laws of this State or the United States other than the office then held, at any time when the unexpired term of the office then held shall exceed one year and 30 days, such announcement or such candidacy shall constitute an automatic resignation of the office then held, and the vacancy thereby created shall be filled pursuant to law in the same manner as other vacancies for such office are filled.
At the June 10 Atascosa County Commissioners Court, agenda item 11 was to discuss and or take appropriate action concerning appointing a Constable for Precinct 3 due to an unfulfilled term.
Commissioner Pct. 1 Mark Gillespie said that as of Friday, June 9 at 5:00 p.m. he had one candidate (Cregg Thompson) that was interested in being appointed to the constable’s position. He further stated that as of that morning he had another candidate express interest (Phillip Bosquez) in being appointed to the position. Gillespie said that when the agenda was made it was an easy decision as there was just one person. “This looked like an easy process,” said Gillespie. “But, here it is Monday morning and we are going to need to make a move on something and we have got two. I feel that we need to have a little discussion on this. I don’t think this is favoritism and I don’t think party is involved. It is about the right man for the right job.”
Commissioner Pct. 2 Stuart Knowlton said that part of the discussion needs to be about a period for any interested party to express their interest in this position. Commissioner Pct. 3 Eliseo Perez stated that he agreed to open it up for a period and see how many good candidates apply. Commissioner Knowlton made a motion to open up the application for a period to end this Wednesday. Commissioner Pct. 4 Riley seconded the motion. Commissioners Gillespie, Knowlton and Riley were in favor. Perez was opposed.
Judge Hurley asked Perez if he wished to make a motion. Perez said that he wanted to make a motion to appoint Philip Bosquez. Judge Hurley asked for a second motion, there was no second motion so it failed.
Commissioner Perez stated that he had been called by several people and in reference to both candidates he said they are good officers. “But, I kind of lean towards one because he was there and he was recommended by the now constable,” said Perez. “But, if you are going to give it some time I agree with that. That way everybody has a fair chance.”
Commissioner Gillespie referring to the opening up period for applying stated “I’d like to say this and maybe I am wrong but it doesn’t have to go through this process, it can be simply an appointed position immediately.” Judge Hurley agreed.
Commissioner Gillespie stated regarding the discussion for that motion “I feel you just had three Commissioners vote on waiting and I don’t find it right to turn around and vote exactly against what we just voted. That is my belief on that.” Judge Hurley said he wanted to make sure Commissioner Perez had his voice heard.
Assistant County Attorney Siobhan Mullen addressed Judge Hurley and the Commissioners and stated “Even though this is considered a trigger of an automatic resignation, this does fall into holdover provisions and so Constable Luna still is in that position until you are able to fill it. The actual rule is Article 16 Section 17 of the Texas Constitution. Judge Hurley stated that what that means is that Constable Luna will stay in the office until a replacement is sworn in not just selected.
The two persons who have put forth their name to be considered are Chief Deputy Sheriff Cregg Thompson of the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office and Chief Deputy Constable Precinct 3, Philip Bosquez.
The decision on who will be appointed will be made in next week’s Commissioners Court meeting held at 9:00 a.m. in the Atascosa County Courthouse. These meetings are open to the public.
When asked whether he was aware of the provision “Resign to Run,” Constable Rick Luna stated “Truthfully, I did not remember it. But, when they brought it to my attention I understood what took place and I don’t regret the decision I made. That just enables me to move forward doing what I want to do so I am very content with how it went. Yes, I am going to miss what I am doing. I love serving the community. But, we are going to be good. It is a lesson learned for the future.”
If interested in applying for the Atascosa County Constable Precinct 3 vacated position, call Judge Hurley’s office at 830-769-3093.