Motion asks judge to reconsider injunction

Sallisaw Mayor Jim Hudgens filed a motion to reconsider an order and ruling in response to a ruling by District Judge Jeff Payton last month that enjoined Hudgens from acting as Sallisaw's mayor.

Payton's ruling came Nov. 20 after Attorney Frank Sullivan III filed an application for a temporary injunction on behalf of Sallisaw City Manager Clayton Lucas II. Payton granted the injunction and prohibited Hudgens from acting as mayor.

Sallisaw City Attorney John Robert Montgomery filed the motion to reconsider the day after the ruling.

“Defendant (Hudgens) would show in support of his motion and would allege and state that the city has difficulty in functioning, intends to call special meetings to appoint another person to attend a settlement conference in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma set for Nov. 30, appoint some other member, if possible, to sign contracts and perform such duties as may be required by a mayor,” Montgomery said in the motion.

Commissioner Ro Poindexter and Commissioner Julian Mendiola were subsequently appointed to represent the city at the conference, and Mendiola was authorized to sign contracts in other business.

Montgomery said the citizens are entitled to have persons who can exercise the required functions and duties necessary to represent the city pending litigation to determine “title of office.”

Montgomery cited case law to back up his contention the injunction was not the proper remedy to determine title to office.

Lucas and Sullivan filed the application for temporary injunction after Lucas was terminated from his job as city manager by a 3-2 vote of the Sallisaw Board of Commissioners Nov. 13.

Sullivan claimed in his argument that Hudgens was not legally mayor and the board did not follow the City Charter when Lucas was denied a written list of reasons for his termination 30 days prior to that termination and he was not allowed a public hearing.

The same night following the hearing, the board of commissioners, without Hudgens present, attempted to correct those errors by considering an agenda item that would have authorized providing Lucas with the list of reasons. Another agenda item that night was to place the city manager on paid administrative leave and the appointment of an acting city manager. That special meeting was scheduled prior to the notice of the temporary injunction hearing.

Because there was a 2-2 tie on the first agenda item, the second item was stricken and not considered.

Also argued by Sullivan during the injunction hearing, was that George Bormann had defeated Hudgens in the election and later announced he could not take the position when he learned it would be in conflict with his job.

Former Mayor Julie Ferguson did not file to run for another term in the 2016 election. Under the City Charter, a mayor could be appointed if a vacancy exists, and the charter also says the term of office began April 17.

Hudgens was appointed as mayor at the April 24 board meeting, but Sullivan argued the appointment was seven days into the new term and there was no vacancy because Ferguson was still serving as a holdover in the mayor's seat. Sullivan said once a vacancy occurs, the holdover can't continue to act in selecting her own successor.

At that April 24 meeting, Ferguson made the motion to appoint Hudgens mayor and Hudgens, who was still a seated commissioner, voted for himself to be appointed mayor. Sullivan said by Ferguson also voting in favor of Hudgens appointment she was, in essence, “choosing her own successor.

Payton ultimately granted the temporary injunction and enjoined Hudgens from acting as mayor until the various issues could be resolved in court.

Sequoyah County Times

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