Sullivan City commissioner avoids removal from office

SULLIVAN CITY — After three consecutive absences, council member Gabriel Salinas faced possibility of removal from office. However, on Friday, the city council voted to allow him to stay.

By unanimous vote, the council members retroactively excused his three consecutive absences.

“If a council member misses three meetings then potentially, based on the city charter, they can be removed from office,” city attorney Armando Marroquin told the council during Friday’s meeting. “But there is a caveat, the caveat being if the council approves any of the absences, or excuses the absences, then if the council wishes to do that, then it becomes a non-issue and the council member can continue on.”

Salinas, who was elected in May 2017, said he was unable to attend meetings earlier this year because he was taking an engineering course in San Antonio.

The course was held by Test Masters, a company that offers test preparation courses for the Principle and Practice in Engineering exam, among other courses.

“I’m not an exception to the rules for anything; that’s the way the charter is written.” Salinas said. “Unfortunately, I lost track of the three consecutive meetings.”

“I believe I’d be a greater asset to the city and I’m pretty sure to the people,” he said. “You don’t want to just make a decision based on what your professionals tell you.”

Mayor Leonel “Leo” Garcia said he doesn’t believe Salinas was ever really in danger of being removed from office.

“We were looking very closely at his excuse. His excuse was for education and, to me, education means a lot,” Garcia said. “In my opinion he was never in danger and he’s been a great asset to the city.”

The mayor said he spoke with the city attorney about amending the city agendas to address how they excuse absences. That will hopefully prevent a situation involving absences from reaching this point again.

Despite the absences, Garcia took a favorable view of the situation.

“I’m really proud of the guy, that he’s actually pursuing an engineering certificate,” Garcia added. “That means a lot to me and of course it will mean a lot to the city.”