The position became vacant when Municpal Court Judge David Sotelo resigned July 9.
Sotelo’s letter of resignation offered no reason for his resignation, but one city councilman said it was likely related to a recent dispute between Sotelo, the city manager and the city council regarding the amount of pay for the municipal court clerk.
City Councilman Ken Reiley said he reviewed all the resumes that had been submitted for consideration.
“The only real qualified person out there right now is Barbara Shaw so I make a motion that we appoint Barbara Shaw to the municipal court judge,” Reiley said.
Councilman Brandon Briones seconded Reiley’s motion.
Shaw served part of one term as Karnes County judge before resigning after defeat in the Democratic primary election to challenger Walter Long, Jr. Shaw and her husband have two pending lawsuits, one against the City of Karnes City claiming damage to their property and another against a former Karnes County deputy claiming damages brought about a result of remarks made in emails sent by the former deputy.
Shaw resigned March 14, about nine and a half months before completing her fourth year in office.
Not all of the councilmen shared Reiley’s assessment of Shaw as being the best qualified candidate.
“I disagree with Ken,” Councilman Bob Patton said.
Mayor Randy Garza quickly called for a vote, but others wanted to discuss it further before voting.
“Are we going to talk?” Councilman Felipe Leal asked.
Councilman Bob Patton said he had also reviewed the resumes.
“They are all three well qualified candidates,” Patton said. “I prefer Elizabeth Covington.”
Leal asked City Manager Ford Patton if it would be appropriate for him to abstain from voting since his daughter-in-law was one of the three candidates under consideration.
The city manager told Leal abstaining from the vote, under the circumstances, would be the safest thing to do.
“The one that Ken suggested has created a great deal of controversy throughout the county,” Councilman H.J. Kolinek said. “I think we should pass.”
Reiley responded to Kolinek’s remark.
“At the same time, the controversy has been caused by a lot of people, not just her,” Reiley said. “She did the job that she was elected to do, even with all the controversy, even with all the hatred, even with all the stuff that was pressed against her and she still went ahead and did a really good job.”
Reiley said Shaw was the only candidate that has held court, and the other applicants would require training.
“But then I also say that she didn’t complete her job,” Patton responded. “I am getting tired of coming in and having to hire a new municipal judge every three months because the judge gets mad and resigns,” he added noting recent resignations.
“I would like to look for someone long term,” Patton said.
“How are you judging that?” Reiley asked.
“By past practice,” Patton said. “She resigned from her judgeship as county judge without her term being up,” Patton said. “I look at that and that shows me past practice and that could happen again.”
“Does anybody actually know why she resigned?” Councilman Brandon Briones asked.
“Regardless of why she resigned, she did resign,” Patton said.
Mayor Garza again called for a vote.
Reiley and Briones voted in favor while Patton and Kolinek voted against, and Leal abstained from the vote leaving a tie 2-2 vote.
Garza asked the city manager if it would be proper for him to cast a vote breaking the tie under the circumstances and the city manager said that it would.
“I also vote ‘Yea” for Barbara Shaw,” Garza said, casting the tie-breaking vote and approving Shaw’s appointment as municipal judge.