By Amanda Kimble
STEPHENVILLE (May 9, 2017) – Forget farewells, Jerry Warren says he isn’t going anywhere.
Warren, 83, announced his intention to resign from Stephenville City Council by sending an email to city staff on the night of May 4. The public was informed about Warren’s intention to resign on May 5, one day prior to a heated council race.
In a message to The Flash on Tuesday, days after the election, Warren said he had a change of heart.
“A significant number of people including other council members, have asked me to stay on the council,” he said. “So, yes I will continue as a council member. Thanks to my supporters.”
The resignation was anything but official. The issue, related to Warren’s Place 8 office, had not been discussed and approved by his fellow council members.
But, the news that he plans to stay followed other council-related news. All four incumbents – Mark McClinton, Place 1; Doug Svien, Place 3; Rhett Harrison, Place 5; and Sherry Zachary, Place 7 – were elected to another term Saturday.
Warren had openly supported the latter three.
The contest – and associated drama – started when David Baskett, 37, a local banker and community leader serving on the STEDCO board and as a Stephenville Chamber of Commerce ambassador, stepped up to run against Zachery.
In his initial campaign announcement, Baskett spoke with The Flash’s Brad Keith, saying there needs to be younger community members at the helm of city governance.
“I want a younger voice on the Stephenville City Council,”Baskett. “Right now the voice that’s on the council is not my voice.”
It was not clear if the comment was a direct reference to the age of office holders of their way of doing business, which Baskett said wasn’t conducive to progress.
In an expanded campaign message, Baskett said he favored issues like the proposed events center and expressed concern about stalled infrastructure improvements, as well as the need for more jobs and a focus on economic development.
Following the sting of what many community members perceived as comments about aging council members, Warren took to Facebook, weighing in on Baskett’s candidacy, the events center issue and the role of council members. His comment concluded with a remark about Baskett’s ego.
“… I hate the idea of sitting next to 300 pounds or so of pure ego in the form of Baskett,” Warren said.
The comments ensued a backlash, with Baskett and other community members saying the reference about Baskett’s weight was out of line.
Several community members – city voters and others who were not qualified to cast ballots in Saturday’s election – spoke up, calling Warren a bully and unprofessional.
Warren trumped the comments by saying he would resign if Baskett was elected to avoid sitting next to him in the council chambers at Stephenville City Hall. The comment led some voters to say they would vote for Baskett just to get rid of Warren.
But, Warren sent the email announcing his intention to resign prior to the election. Now, Warren is back in again.
While many say unofficial resignation and subsequent change of heart seem more like a well-orchestrated maneuver, Baskett said the flip-flop is just more of what he’s grown to expect.
“I think it’s embarrassing for our city, and this just proves he’s not a man of his word,” Baskett said.