Sullivan City fires city attorney and municipal judge

2 months 1 week 3 days ago Tuesday, December 15 2020 Dec 15, 2020 December 15, 2020 7:02 AM December 15, 2020 in News - Local
Sullivan City Hall suffered major damage during Hurricane Hanna and is currently closed for repairs. (KRGV-TV photo / Dave Hendricks)

The Sullivan City Council fired the city attorney and the municipal judge on Monday.

Members of the City Council voted 3-0 to dismiss City Attorney Marco De Luna and his wife, Municipal Judge Carina Garza De Luna.

The changes at City Hall are part of a shakeup that started on Dec. 2. During the past two weeks, Sullivan City hired a new city manager, fired several alternate municipal judges and watched the city secretary abruptly resign.

“We’re looking for the best of the interests of our citizens. There’s no politics involved,” said City Councilman Jaime Villarreal. “It’s just — personally, I’m personally saying this — out of what I think is best.”

Villarreal, City Councilman Julian Peña and City Councilman Rene “Cuate” Peña voted for the motions, which passed unanimously. Mayor Leo Garcia and City Councilwoman Sylvia Castillo didn’t attend the meeting.

After the City Council voted, Marco De Luna walked out. The City Council didn’t acknowledge him.

“I walked out of there today with my head held high,” Marco De Luna said. “I gave my heart and soul to the city when I worked there.”

Marco De Luna said he considers Sullivan City his second home and will remain involved with the community.

“This is not a goodbye at all,” Marco De Luna said. “I’m not going to leave the people of Sullivan City and I’m always going to be there for them.”

The City Council replaced Marco De Luna with attorney Jose L. Caso of Edinburg. Among other clients, Caso represents the city of Peñitas and the La Joya Economic Development Corp.

“He has been working with other cities,” said Rene “Cuate” Peña. “He knows about grants and all that governmental stuff that a municipality needs to know.”

The City Council also fired Municipal Judge Carina Garza De Luna, an attorney, and Alternate Municipal Judge Eleazar Velasquez Jr., a member of the Rio Grande City school board.

They will be replaced by Jesse Lerma, the civil service director for the city of Mission, and Oscar “Coach” Salinas, a member of the La Joya school board.

“Mr. Lerma has always been here for the city,” said Rene “Cuate” Peña, adding that other judges hadn’t responded when the city needed them.

Both Lerma and Salinas previously served as alternate municipal judges.

“Sometimes you need them to resolve a problem or do some arraignments and they’re pretty far or they don’t respond,” Villarreal said. “So we kind of went through them, their history and the responses they have had. That’s one of the reasons that we selected these judges: Because they’re judges that can respond to the officers and the community as well.”

The City Council may also make other changes.

On Dec. 7, the City Council discussed whether or not to dump two consultants: former Mission City Manager Isauro Treviño, who provides the city with grant-writing services, and former Palmview City Manager Ramon Segovia, who provides the city with general consulting services.

After a lengthy discussion, which took place in executive session, the City Council didn’t take any action.

How much longer Sullivan City will keep them around, though, remains unclear.

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