Tuesday, November 21, 2017

‘No’ Vote Keeps Sallisaw City Manager on the Job

Sallisaw City Manager Clayton Lucas II, left, Ward 3 Commissioner 
Julian Mendiola, center, Dianna Davis, city clerk, right.

Four members of the five-member Sallisaw Board of City Commissioners did not authorize the issuance of a written notice of termination, as required by the city charter, to City Manager Clayton Lucas II at a special meeting Monday evening.

The special meeting was called by Mayor Jim Hudgens after the board voted 3 to 2 on Nov. 13 to terminate Lucas, then found out the city charter required certain termination processes. Among those were a written notice, listing the reasons for termination, given 30 days in advance. That had not been done.

Because the four commission members voted 2 to 2, which is a “no” vote according to city officials, no action was taken on another item on the agenda, which was to take possible action to place the city manager on paid administrative leave and the appointment of an acting city manager.

Because of the agenda action and no action, Lucas remains as city manager, but “is still terminated,” according to City Attorney John Robert Montgomery.

Only four members of the commission were at the special meeting because District Judge Jeff Payton, at a hearing earlier Monday in Sequoyah County District Court, agreed with Lucas’ attorney Frank Sullivan III that Sallisaw Mayor Jim Hudgens was not correctly appointed mayor according to city charter protocols. Therefore Hudgens, “is still mayor but cannot vote,” said Montgomery after the special meeting.

The voting at the special meeting followed voting at the regular meeting on which Lucas’ termination was on the agenda at Hudgens’ request. Voting for termination at the regular meeting were Hudgens, Ward 1 Commissioner Ronnie Lowe and Ward 2 Commissioner Ro Poindexter. Those who voted against firing Lucas are Ward 4 Commissioner Daryl Legg and Ward 3 Commissioner Julian Mendiola.

At the special meeting those who voted for the written notice of termination were Lowe and Poindexter. Voting against the notice of termination were Legg and Mendiola.

Mendiola conducted the meeting in Hudgens’ absence, which resulted from Judge Payton’s approval of Sullivan’s motion for temporary injunction against Hudgens acting as mayor. At that time, Payton instructed the attorneys – Sullivan and Montgomery – to prepare their arguments for the permanent injunction requested.

Tuesday Lucas issued the following press release through Sullivan:

“Sallisaw is fortunate to have several community leaders who are passionate about the way our city serves our residents. Sometimes leaders disagree with respect to the manner in which we drive our city forward, but all would agree that it is vital to stay true to the mission of making Sallisaw better.

“There are three Board of Commissioner offices that are up for grabs in February including the office of Mayor. We look forward to the path chosen by our upcoming elected leaders, and Clayton sincerely desires to be a part of Sallisaw’s future success.”

The press release is signed by both Sullivan and Lucas.

Sallisaw residents will be choosing a mayor and commissioners for Wards 2 and 4 in a Feb. 13 city election. The filing period for the election will begin at 8 a.m. on Dec. 4 and will conclude at 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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