GALENA PARK – Over 750 voters went to the polls last Saturday, to express their opinion on whether the City Charter should be amended, and how it should read.
In a stunning defeat of the propositions, all were defeated by a margin averaging 540 AGAINST, and only 220 FOR.
After months of wrangling and arguing over who has authority to run the city, the Mayor, the Council, or the City Manager, the voters chose two amendments, #10 and #14, to focus the most negative votes against allowing the city manager and the council to have more authority.
Amendment #10, defeated 558 to 187, would have permanently established a city manager style of government.
Amendment #14, defeated 557 to 185, would have required two councilpersons to agree with the mayor to veto any city actions.
City leaders, including a Charter Committee of 16 citizens, headed by former councilman Joe Thibodeaux, had written and favored all 18 amendments, and had excluded 4 others they felt were not required.
The impetus to amend the charter, ironically, had started with Mayor Esmeralda Moya soon after her election last year, when it became clear that she did not have the authority to run council meetings and hire and fire city personnel in a manner that she wished, and that she often said was “what the people want.”
However, as the Charter Amendments were promulgated by the committee, and prepared for the election process, she and others spoke out against the amendment package. As she told the North Channel Star in an interview previously, she thought the way the amendments were written did not accomplish what she intended, and advised voters to reject them. She has actually filed a lawsuit against the city manager and council, charging them with violating the original charter, the Texas Open Meetings Act, and interfering with her ability to run the city as authorized by the original charter. This lawsuit is pending at the present time, along with a countersuit and several others similar in context.
Others, including activist Barry Ponder, formed a committee known as the “Committee for a Better Galena Park” and posted the yard signs and flyers outlining their objections to the amendments.
Without a revised charter, or a court ordered decision, it appears that Galena Park will continue to operate the way it has for a number of years. City Administrator Robert Pruett told the North Channel Star that most of the charter provisions had already been adopted as ordinances previously.