5 NEWS UPDATE: Lopez to Challenge Council Decision
Written by Rachel McDevitt
Last updated on February 14, 2014 @ 5:36PM
Created on February 14, 2014 @ 9:46PM
5 NEWS UPDATE 2/14:
Thursday night, Clarksburg City Council voted to remove Sam "Zeke" Lopez from his seat due to his conviction for domestic assault.
According to a report from the Exponent Telegram, Lopez and his attorney have filed a lawsuit to reverse that vote.
Lopez's lawyer, Greg Schillace, is also planning to approach Clarksburg City Attorney Greg Morgan about putting Lopez back on council pending the outcome of the legal action.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare unconstitutional Section 5 of the Clarksburg City Charter.
Mayor Goings said last night that council would need to face the consequences of that vote together though they weren't sure what action would be taken. Now they will need to prepare for the lawsuit against their vote which Lopez called unconstitutional and illegal. Council is now in the process of filling Lopez's empty seat.
Goings told 5 News that as of Friday evening, she had not been served any papers regarding the lawsuit, but she believes that each member of council will be served individually.
Stay with 5 News for any further updates.
ORIGINAL STORY 2/13:
Clarksburg City Council voted unanimously Thursday night that a conviction for domestic assault violates moral turpitude. That means Sam "Zeke" Lopez immediately loses his seat, but it doesn't necessarily mean this headache is completely over.
"It has taken its toll on this council. Our last and final option was to unite together as a council to restore credibility and integrity to our city," Mayor Cathy Goings said after the council's vote on Thursday.
Council did unite against Lopez and his conviction for domestic assault, but not before he had his say, calling the meeting and the motion to unseat him "unconstitutional."
"What about the people who voted for me? I guess they don't count; people you don't count," Lopez said as he addressed the audience at Thursday's meeting. "You don't count in Clarksburg city election; that's what these people up here are telling you when they vote tonight."
Lopez said council members can't determine what makes other members fit for council. But the vote is in, and Lopez is out.
"We've been dealing with this for the last seven and a half months and our focus isn't where it needs to be," Goings said.
Councilwoman Margaret Bailey said, "This is a very positive move for us; forward, better things. And I know that the citizens do deserve to have the very best they can have."
However, it doesn't look like Lopez is going down without a fight, and council might not be able to move on as quickly as they want.
"I'm a winner," Lopez said as he walked out of the meeting. "I will win again if I run."
"Together, we will deal with the consequences of our final action," Goings said after the vote. "I'm not sure what exactly will be filed by Mr. Lopez and his attorney, but we will deal with it accordingly."
Council now has 30 days to fill Lopez's seat. If they can't reach an agreement by majority the seat will go to the next highest vote-getter from the last election.
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