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Gallo to remove opponent from Parks board

Thursday, August 4, 2016 by Jo Clifton

District 10 City Council Member Sheri Gallo has informed her appointee to the Parks and Recreation Board that she will be removed and replaced at today’s Council meeting. Alison Alter, who announced that she would run against Gallo in this November’s election, has been Gallo’s appointment to the board for the past year and a half.

Alter said she received an email from Gallo on Wednesday notifying her that the incumbent would be appointing Susan Roth to the position Alter currently holds on the advisory panel. Alter said that Roth is a fine person and would do good work on the board but that the position is not currently vacant.

Gallo’s email, which was passed along to the Austin Monitor, does not indicate the reason for Gallo’s decision but thanks her for her service. Alter said she is currently on vacation and therefore cannot attend today’s meeting to protest. However, she said, “I want to continue to serve and am not happy with how Sheri Gallo is managing our parks needs.”

Under city code, board and commission members serve at the pleasure of Council. If the majority of Council members vote to remove any member of a board or commission, that person is removed. Alter said she wanted to make the point that it takes an affirmative vote of Council in order to remove a board or commission member.

While it is not common for a Council member to remove a board member she has appointed, it is not entirely unprecedented. One former Council member told the Monitor that he was removed from the Environmental Board when he announced that he was running against the person who appointed him. A few months later, the appointing Council member decided not to run, and the former Environmental Board member defeated another opponent to be elected to Council.

Gallo responded to our email inquiry with the following statement: “I asked Ms. Alter to resign from the Parks and Recreation Board because of her inherent conflict of interest due to her intention to run against me for City Council. It would be difficult for her to represent both me and the District 10 Office in good faith while actively campaigning against me. After Ms. Alter refused to resign, I chose to move forward with nominating Susan Roth, who served as Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s appointee on the Parks Board from 2012-2015, who I believe will better serve my District 10 Office.”

Photo by Andrew Nourse made available through a Creative Commons license.

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