Argyle politics could simmer down

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Some hoping end of mayor’s term will halt Town Hall conflicts

ARGYLE — The decisions of three Argyle residents to withdraw from the town’s mayoral race has left the seat unopposed, and officials hope the change will end the conflicts in Town Hall, many of which have revolved around the current mayor.

Mayor Matt Smith, Mayor Pro Tem Joey Hasty and newcomer Kay Teer Jenkins each withdrew their names from seeking the mayor’s seat in the upcoming May election, leaving council member Peggy Krueger running unopposed.

Hasty and Jenkins filed in late February just days before the deadline, while Smith and Krueger filed on the last day, March 1.

Soon after Smith and Krueger filed, Hasty and Jenkins withdrew, and Jenkins decided to instead run for the Place 2 council seat against incumbent David Wintermute.

“I’m just ready to get this city back on track and end the drama,” Hasty said.

Hasty said the clashes between council members have sometimes hindered progress the town could have made toward improvements.

Last fall, Smith expressed interest in defending his seat, but on Feb. 25, Smith said he would not seek re-election, citing the health of a relative.

He also mentioned that he was “sick of the political games,” referring to instances in which some council members questioned or criticized him for his actions on council.

However, he filed on the last day of the filing period, only to withdraw his name two days later.

Earlier that week, the council met to discuss the allegations two woman made against the town and Smith.

In January, two women filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints with the state against Town Hall, accusing Smith of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

According to EEOC documents, both women alleged that Smith harassed them and demoted them without fair reason.

Smith said the claims being made by the women were political, attempting to sabotage his reputation.

During a regular scheduled council meeting in February, the council discussed the accusations in an executive session. Council members could be heard raising their voices even though they were behind closed doors in the council chambers.

“I’m done with being constantly attacked and having to listen to certain council members,” Smith said.

Hasty said he hopes the town will shake some conflicts that have defined the council in recent months. He also said he hopes the council, which usually votes 3-2, will act more unanimously after the election.

“After May, I hope we can be a united council. I’m sure the public is tired of it. I am,” he said.

In October, the council addressed and attempted to resolve some of the issues and conflicts between members during a retreat in Bartonville.

Council members agreed to work through their differences, but by the next meeting, it was clear that Town Hall still had many issues to resolve.

In a single meeting, Smith was appointed as the interim town manager and several ordinances were modified to transfer some administrative control from the town manager position to the mayor.

Council member Bonny Haynes and Krueger both said they believed this was a political move by Smith to gain more administrative control over Town Hall.

Haynes, one of the mayor’s most vocal critics on the council, said Smith wasn’t acting with the interests of the town in mind.

Smith said the changes were made to make daily town operations smoother.

During the same meeting, Smith publicly addressed and accused town Finance Director Kim Collins of misappropriating funds used to pay for former Town Manager Lyle Dresher’s retirement party.

And Town Secretary Codi Delcambre’s job performance was also questioned. In both instances, neither employee was disciplined.

The election for the mayor’s seat, Place 2 and Place 4 is May 11. Teer, Wintermute and newcomer Marla Hawkesworth are vying for Place 2. Newcomer Jeff Cantrell runs unopposed for Place 4 after Haynes, the incumbent, withdrew after nearly 10 years on the council.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is jharden@dentonrc.com .


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