Following a 3-2 vote, the motion to adopt a new resolution declaring a lack of confidence on Mayor Denise Sanchez was passed at the Poteet city council meeting last week. In 2022, Sanchez was censured by city council, making it the second time the mayor was handed a no-confidence vote.
The item was added to the agenda following alleged mistreatment by Mayor Sanchez to other councilmembers.
“I basically put this on because I feel that the actions and behaviors of our mayor [show] that I have no confidence in her ability as our mayor and there’s been several instances that I’m sure several of us have seen,” said councilmember Candace Perez, who put the item on the agenda.
One of the actions brought up by the council was the seating arrangement. At the June 20 council meeting, Mayor Sanchez chose to sit in front of the council desk refusing to sit next to Perez, who had just been elected. Despite voting to keep council members seated in their respective places, Dominguez and Sanchez have continued to sit out of order.
In response to the agenda item, Sanchez stated, “I have moved the City of Poteet when I became Mayor in 2021. We were a circus.”
Council member Nick Vasquez motioned to approve the item and stated that council needs to hold each other accountable.
“The council is unified,” said council member Nick Vasquez. “We know what the issue is and to say just because someone gets elected they get to act how they want? True. But I’m not gonna sit here and tolerate it and enable it just because you got elected. Y’all wouldn’t do the same thing for me and I expect nothing else from y’all.”
Martinez & Martinez, PLLC, the legal counsel for the City of Poteet explained the vote for a lack of confidence to the council.
“Essentially, it is just a sanction,” said Itzel Martinez. “It is similar to a public censure in that you all are deciding to formally vote that you don’t have confidence in her leadership ability. That’s what this resolution is doing. It doesn’t have any legal implications. There’s no way to administratively remove her position, she’s democratically elected. The only way to remove her would be for a citizen to file a petition with the district court judge … However, your code of ethics policy allows council to take action to sanction council members when they act wrongfully or when they violate the code of ethics.”
Councilmember Rick Flores along with Vasquez and Perez voted in favor of the motion. Dominguez and council member Crystal Bautista voted against.
“I heard it said that we used to be a circus,” said Flores. “We’re still a circus. We just have a ringmaster in Ms. Popham that can control what goes on in the city and she has done an amazing job in controlling us. But you can only control so far, a leopard does not change. All I’m saying is that working together is the way to go, but we had to have unity. It doesn’t appear that we have that right now.”
City Manager Report
Melissa Popham, Poteet City Administrator, gave her monthly report and introduced the Employee of the Month. She, council members and some staff members attended the 111th Annual TML Conference, concentrating on information on small town business and economic development. The Grand Opening of Maxwell Dog Park took place on Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. The Police Association will hold its Trunk or Treat event, which will take place on Oct. 29 from 6-8 p.m. at Canyon Park. There will be a haunted hay ride, costume and decorated pumpkin contests and the Poteet ISD BBQ cook off team will have a sausage wrap fundraiser.
Popham said that under the full-time director, Andrea Faz, the library is flourishing. She is still working as the court clerk, as well. For all her good works, she was named Employee of the Month.
Doug Martella discussed the financial health of the city. The General Fund has a $200,000 surplus and sales tax was over the budget amount. There is a loss of $22,000 in the Utility Fund, but that is expected to even out with the new meters. There is a cash balance of $2.3 million across all funds. Councilman Henry Dominguez thanked him for a great job, adding that Popham gets credit for the City being in a good place.
Faz reported that there were 704 people in the library for the month. There were seven new cards issued, 29 computer users, 11 guests, 15 using the Wi/Fi, 26 enjoyed the crochet club and two for story time. The conference room was used four times. The Friends of the Library had their lunch and silent auction, which was well attended. For the fines and fees, they took in $225.35 for the month.
She continued with the Municipal Court report, saying that there were 12 new cases, 29 to appear and 13 to see the judge. Fees collected $9,60214, with $4,717.11 going to the City, $3,714.29 to the state and $850.74 to the collection agency. She thanked all those who helped her since she would not be able to do all this alone.
Chief Bruce Hickman reported 53 new cases, 131 calls for service, six arrests with three felonies and three warrants, 54 traffic stops, 530 building checks and one report of shots fired.
Public Works director Bobby Buentello said that Well #9 has electrical problems but the necessary parts have been ordered. There were two water breaks and one sewer backup. There were also 50 disconnects for the month. The water and sewer lines will be starting on Monday for the Splash Pad. It is expected to take three months for the total completion.
Kerry McCullough is working on partnerships for economic development with the school and workforce. She attended a retail academy workshop and continues to look for grant funding for the city.
Fire Chief Curtis Adams reported 25 calls in 36 days. Seven calls were canceled fires, two electric, three medical, two accidents, one vehicle accident without injury and one vehicular cleanup. Councilman Rick Flores who is a member of the VFD, thanked the city for seeing that new tires were put on the old engine truck. Adams also said that the burn ban has been lifted, but if you burn, you have to call the county about it and it must be attended at all times. Burning is never allowed in the city limits.
The ordinance amending the increase of water disconnection and due date has already been approved, but the paper was not in the packet for review. Notification will be on the December billing.
The new disconnect master fees were not included earlier either. Both ordinances were approved. The after-hours utility reconnection ordinance was also approved, with Perez abstaining.
Discussion of the ordinance amending the rates for renting city parks and facilities. Canyon Park can be rented either with or without the kitchen. Other rentals include the Municipal Park, library and sports fields. Councilmembers were careful to allow for everyone being treated fairly and equally. Vasquez suggested a flat $200 per games and $50 per month for practices. Popham stated that the city staff maintains the fields, no matter the use. The major discussion was how to decide who gets the field first. Should it be done through a reservation system, first-come, firstcome basis or some sort of drawing system? It was agreed that Popham get with the Little Aggies and South Texas Rebels for their input and come back to the council with her findings.
Popham pointed out that the ordinance regarding council procedures had not been updated in years and they have changed the meeting times and dates a couple of times. Motion was made to update the ordinance and agreed to unanimously.
A social media policy was up for discussion next. This addition would be added the Employee Handbook and the city council relations policy. It is critical to use social media as a method of communication, but need to avoid the pitfalls of engagement. Flores said an individual represents their organization. Social media is not the place to share information on the city. Motion for the resolution passed unanimously.
Dominguez is ready to form an Economic Development Corporation which was first discussed last year. He wants to set up the steering committee and the first meeting will be on the first Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. Vasquez warned that it is sometimes hard to get folks to meetings.
The item from last month was brought up again dealing with repaying monies given for trainings when employee does not attend. The attorney said that she found nothing from other cities that do this. She drew up something. The policy has no exception for lack of attendance. Certificates of completion are proof that staff has attended. Bautista said that nothing like this has happened, so why have this policy? Perez was concerned about the misuse of taxpayer money. The motion was made to keep the resolution and add that the review should be done on case to case basis and performed by the administrator.
The mayor said that she is here to move the city forward, but she needs to start putting her family first. She left the meeting before it was adjourned.
Vasquez thanked those for coming but added that even though they are elected, they should not be afraid to stand up for what they feel is right.
Dominguez said they need to keep moving forward despite the little dips. Democracy wins. He thanked everyone for being civil.
Flores said they agree to disagree and keep things civil. He also thanked Mrs. Knox for the wonderful things she was doing in support of “our community,” helping the homeless and children.
Perez reminded everyone of the Haunted House on October 28, 29 and 31.
Bautista said members should grow up and do the job they were voted to do.