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Left to right: Commissioners Eric Broussard - Parks & Recreation, Barry Ponder -Streets & Bridges, Mayor Esmeralda Moya, Oscar Silva Jr. - Fire & Police , Rodney Chersky - Water & Sewer. (Photo by Allan Jamail)
Left to right: Commissioners Eric Broussard – Parks & Recreation, Barry Ponder -Streets & Bridges, Mayor Esmeralda Moya, Oscar Silva Jr. – Fire & Police , Rodney Chersky – Water & Sewer. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

Mayor Moya, New Commissioners sworn in; City Administrator resigns

GALENA PARK, May 17, 2016 – Tuesday Galena Park’s government changed, with the incumbent Mayor and four new Commissioners sworn into office. They immediately took action to remove four city department heads. City Commissioner’s Meeting was a spectacle never seen before in the city of 11,000 plus. The city once a largely white (Anglo) population now had a new majority Hispanic government. However it appeared from those supporting the newly elected officials into office it was a broad mixture of the city’s demographic makeup.

There were so many well-wishers on hand to witness the Oath of Office ceremony City Fire Chief Paul Gregory had to stop the citizens from entering the Council Chamber because it would be over capacity and unsafe. This resulted in the decision to improvise and move the event out to the front of city hall.

On the front steps of City Hall two outgoing Commissioner’s Maricela Serna and Cruz Hinojosa along with the Mayor approved the Resolution Canvassing the May 7th election returns as presented by City Secretary Mayra Gonzales.

After the Oath ceremony of the Mayor and four new Commissioners’s the regular business of the city was relocated back indoors.

Mayor Moya followed the Agenda closely and from time to time under the advice of the acting City Attorney John Hightower she directed the affairs very accurately. City Attorney Jim DeFoyd had resigned following the May 7th city election when all incumbent commissioners was defeated so on hand to help guide the Mayor and Commissioners’ was Mr. Hightower and a attorney representative of the Texas Municipal League.

All of the entire agenda items of the meeting received unanimous support from the newly elected group including the hiring of 12 part-time summer personnel to work as Lifeguards and in Parks and Recreation and Fire Department jobs.

Under the advice of Attorney Hightower the agenda item approving the amending and rescinding of an ordinance providing for severance pay and benefits for certain city officials and department heads was relocated to a later place on the agenda and was approved to do so.

The Mayor, Commissioners’ and acting City Attorney moved into an Executive Session required by the Texas Government Code, Section 551.074 to discuss the employment status of Police Chief Jonathan Rader and City Administrator Robert Pruett.

After the non-public executive session the elected officials reconvened to the chamber and Mayor Moya asked for two motions, one to accept the resignation letter of City Administrator Robert Pruett and one to not accept the resignation letter of Chief Rader. Both motions passed unanimously.

The previous relocated item to rescind the Severance Package Agreement in the Personnel Ordinance was passed unanimously.

Last on the agenda was to table the appointment of Christopher Sanchez as Interim Acting Police Chief which it too passed unanimously.

Mayor Moya and each Commissioner expressed their appreciation for all those in attendance and gave a brief statement as to their goal to work with the citizens and to improve the city of Galena Park. Moya said the city belongs to the citizens and not to the elected’s only.

Mayor Moya & Commissioner Rodney Chersky sent two letters to the North Channel Star reporter Allan Jamail.

In reaching out to City Administrator Robert Pruett before the meeting he said he did send a letter of resignation to the Mayor but it was under duress and also it was contingent and pending the city abiding by the City’s Personnel Ordinance which provides two years of salary and benefits in a severance agreement adopted a couple of years previously by the Commissioner’s. Pruett said if the city failed to follow their own law and agreement and failed to live up to the ordinance he would have to file a law suit against the city.

Mayor Moya was asked if she would now be conducting the day-to-day business of the city in the absence of a City Admistrator she replied, “yes I’m a full-time Mayor”.

Since the election other resignations have been Public Works Director David Binning and Water & Sewer Superintendent Tojuana Copper. Cooper has the required licenses Texas requires for the operation of the Water & Sewer facilities and so Commissioner Chersky says the city is working diligently to find replacements for both.