City of Plum Grove special meeting erupts, ends in chaos

The city and school board elections have just ended and new council members and board trustees are being sworn in around Liberty County. However, that is not the case for the candidates who won their seats in the City of Plum Grove.

Current Councilwoman Deborah Ann Bell and opponent Rodney Walker faced off for Council Position #1 with the final vote ending in an unresolved tie. Council Position #3 was won by Danielle Enloe. Council Position #5 was won by Kevin Lee.

The winners were supposed to be sworn in earlier this month, but there was a setback due to the County Clerk’s office having to inspect and count 11 provisional ballots and 10 mail-in ballots.

After everything was final, on May 19, the City of Plum Grove posted an agenda on its website for a special meeting for Monday, May 22, 7 p.m., at Plum Grove City Hall, located at 9485 Plum Grove Rd.

The agenda states that there would be consideration, discussion and possible action on the May 6 General Municipal Election, including canvassing the returns and declaring the results for Council Positions 3 and 5. The agenda also listed consideration and possible action on calling a second election for the purpose of electing Council Position 1.

Many residents believed that the City of Plum Grove would settle the tied race with a coin toss in order to avoid the financial burden to the City for another election.

During the discussion, City Secretary Missy Pouncey stated that the city attorney advised holding another election. Residents were skeptical, especially since there reportedly is an investigation into funds that weren’t accounted for in the fund deposit account, which is not related to the election.

“I was told that our city could not afford an election whenever I signed up to run for council. Now, they have the money to pay for a run-off election? I spoke to the county clerk’s office and from what I understand, a run-off election would be more expensive than the original election itself. This is because there is no one to share the costs with. This run-off election could cost the city $5,000 and $7,000,” said newly-elected Position 3 Councilwoman Danielle Enloe.

On Monday night, the City Hall parking lot was full with the only available parking next to the grass due to no parking spaces available. Inside the council chamber, it was standing room only as many people turned out for the meeting. Family members and friends of the winners filled the rows of seats, anxious to see their loved ones sworn into their positions.

Mayor Mary Arrendell, Pouncey and most council members were present. Councilman Ralph Salinas was not at this meeting.

Eight to 10 minutes into the meeting, chaos erupted when Council was asked to vote on whether or not they should agree to another election. Councilman Israel Lopez was opposed to the idea. His opposition of a new election drew support from former mayor, Lee Ann Penton-Walker, whose husband is one of the two candidates caught in the tied race.

“The truth is, Israel, right now, you can get up and leave, and they cannot do this. The law says, and we can Google this right now, that we can hold a coin toss. The city wins. Half the city wanted you (pointing to Bell), half wanted Walker, it’s a win-win. You save money. That is what the people want. Ask them,” said Penton-Walker.

At that moment, Lopez closed his binder and walked away from his seat, leaving and forcing the meeting to a close. New council members were not sworn in. Residents clapped and cheered when Lopez walked away.

As of right now, the City of Plum Grove will hold another election on June 24. Early voting will take place the week prior to the election with the exception of June 19, which is the federal holiday for Juneteenth.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


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