De Leon loses essential city staff in debate over mayor's ouster
DE LEON, Texas - De Leon, a town of a little over 2,000 people in Comanche County, saw three of its city council members and its city secretary resign Monday night.
It also lost its entire police department.
The sudden change in essential city staff came during a council meeting Monday that was partly called to remove De Leon Mayor Jim Adams following his alleged interference with a criminal investigation.
"He's charged with misconduct, which is a very nebulous allegation," said Jim Parker, Adams' attorney. "I don't know what misconduct amounts to."
The issue stems from a shoplifting case that occurred the weekend of June 4 at a Dollar General. Adams, who became mayor following an uncontested election on May 7, said he acquired surveillance video of the theft and turned it over to police. However, the police department found Adams had violated the law by interfering with an investigation.
Adams then placed De Leon Police Chief Ben Rowell on a leave of absence.
His actions were noticed by several city administrators.
"I had advised him that what he was fixing to do wasn't right," said City Administrator/Secretary Karen Wilkerson, who has worked for the city for 16 years. "He went ahead and did it anyway."
A town hall meeting was held Thursday, and city council members discussed the option of removing Adams as mayor. No action was taken, but the item appeared on the agenda for Monday's meeting.
Wilkerson said Adams' action was an ethics violation and compelled her to submit her letter of resignation to city council Monday. Her last day will be June 23.
Adams was not removed as mayor of De Leon during Monday's meeting.
At the meeting, three council members – Ron Johnson, Lee Childers, and Michael Reyna -- also expressed their dissatisfaction with the events that took place and stepped down from their seats.
Rowell also resigned, and his two officers also put in their two-week notices in a show of support, effectively eliminating the entire department.
Comanche County Sheriff's Office deputies will patrol the area.