Mission councilman hired as new city attorney

The Mission city council selected one of their own as the new city attorney last week, leaving a spot open among the city’s governing body.

The council approved the hiring of Mission Councilmember Gus Martinez to fill the position of city attorney pending his resignation from the city council. But before Martinez can step down, the council will have to appoint a replacement to finish out his term.

Martinez, himself, was elected in 2018 to finish out the unexpired term of now-Mayor Armando O’Caña.

O’Caña, who was the place 4 councilmember at the time, stepped down to run for mayor. The mayoral election and the special election for Place 4 were held simultaneously.

On Wednesday, the council approved to hire Martinez as the city attorney by a 3 to 1 vote, with O’Caña voting against the measure.

“Nothing personal against Mr. Martinez,” O’Caña said Monday. “I felt that he had made a commitment to the community that he was going to serve the end of my term.”

O’Caña added that he had recommended to the council that Martinez be offered the job after the term ended in 2020, but he was outvoted.

Martinez will replace the city’s previous attorney Abiel Flores, who stepped down earlier this year, after about three years with the city.

Last month, the council initially agreed to hire another attorney, Guillermo Treviño, for the job. However, Treviño — an attorney with Messer, Rockefeller & Fort, PLLC in Frisco, Texas — turned the job down, according to Mission Councilman Ruben Plata.

Plata, who made the motion to hire Martinez, said he opted to go with Martinez because he was well-qualified.

“He is from the city of Mission and he has shown that he cares,” Plata said. “I think he’ll do a very good job for the city.”

Because less than a year remains on Martinez’s term, which is up for re-election in May 2020, the city council can appoint someone to replace him. However, a special election is also an option.

Plata said he would personally like to have a special election but O’Caña called that a $44,000 option.

“Minimum,” O’Caña said of the cost of a special election. “I’m not going to recommend an election.”

The council will likely decide how to move forward during their next regular city council meeting May 13.