JP holds on to mayor position

Tim Delaney photo Mary Canales takes the oath of office for Justice of the Peace, No. 1, in Refugio County in January.

AUSTWELL – A hearing was held Thursday, May 30, in a case involving Justice of the Peace Mary Canales, who has kept her Austwell mayor position since being elected in the 2018 general election to the JP No. 1 position.

The civil case – 2019-04-12898 – was heard and a continuance of the hearing was reset for July 11. The case is the state of Texas vs. Mary Canales.

The complaint in the non-jury case is that Canales remains mayor of Austwell, “attending and presiding over city council meetings and voting on matters before the city council.”

The Austwell mayor position pays nothing. The JP No. 1 position pays a salary plus benefits.

According to the documents filed in the Refugio County District Clerk’s Office, “under section 66.001 (1), Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, an action in quo warranto is available if a person unlawfully holds or executes an office created by authority of the state of Texas.”

Quo warranto is used to test a person’s legal right to hold an office, not to evaluate the person’s performance in the office.

The case papers also state that “defendant’s failure to vacate her pervious of mayor when more than one year and 30 days remain in her term after announcing her candidacy for justice of the peace and taking office of justice of the peace for Refugio County, Texas, caused her to have violated Article XVI, Section 65 of the Texas Constitution.”

The documents conclude that “probable grounds exist for a quo warranto against the defendant.”

Tim Delaney is the Refugio editor at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397, or at