Judge blocks Converse’s efforts to replace council member

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Converse Mayor Al Suarez, center, is being opposed for re-election by two council colleagues including Kate Silvas, far right, whom the council is trying to remove from her current council seat.

A district judge has temporarily blocked the Converse City Council from replacing one of its members, Kate Silvas, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The order from District Judge Martha Tanner stops the process of replacing Silvas until at least Friday, when a hearing is scheduled on a motion for a longer delay, until Silvas’ suit challenging her removal can be heard.

The move comes just before Tuesday’s city election, in which Silvas is a candidate for mayor, running on a platform that includes transparency and fiscal responsibility. Silvas moved to Converse in 2011 to become director of the Converse Economic Development Corporation.  

She has two opponents: incumbent Mayor Al Suarez, who abstained from the vote to oust her; and council member Deborah James, who did vote to boot Silvas from the council.

The council for the small city on the northeast edge of San Antonio met in special session last week to remove Silvas from the council in her absence, the newspaper reported. Applications were already coming in for Silvas’ council seat when Tanner stopped the process on Monday.

Her council colleagues argue that Tanner violated the city charter by making requests for public information directly to city staff members. The charter states that council members should interact with city staff only after consulting with the city manager.

The Express-News reported that since her November 2018 election, Silvas has requested copies of all city budgets and audits for the past 20 years, copies of all texts sent and received by City Manager Le Ann Piatt since April 2018, and copies of all budgets and audits of the CEDC since it was established in 2000. The newspaper pointed out that only two of the more than two dozen requests for that information were made directly to city staff members.

“I did not violate any law, and exercising a right to request information is inherent to the exercise of office,” Silvas told the newspaper.

She also argues the special meeting was not legal because it was requested by just two of the five council members, when city ordinance requires that a council majority make the request.

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