Thursday night was just another chapter in the case of Clarksburg Councilman Samuel "Zeke" Lopez.
On Wednesday, Lopez was found guilty of domestic assault and sentenced to 30 days behind bars, suspended for one year probation. On Thursday residents waited to see if he would be removed from city council.
The Clarksburg City Charter states that if any member of council is convicted of an immoral crime, they will immediately lose their seat on council. However, that was not the case for Councilman Lopez., at least not Thursday night. Lopez has 20 days to appeal his sentence, and until he does, his verdict is not final.
Mayor Cathy Goings said Thursday that the charter code on morality is a grey area, and that council is consulting with legal advisors on this matter. She also said that council will address the issue after the verdict is final.
"I feel personally that we have spent way too much time on the personal lives of Councilman Lopez and his wife. I mean, it is a personal issue, but at the same time it's detracting from us as a council. We were voted into this office to do good things for the city," Goings said.
Councilwoman Margaret Bailey, however, told 5 News she's taking this issue very seriously.
"I do feel responsible to the citizens to do the right thing," Bailey said.
After Thursday night's meeting, Lopez seemed confident that he has the support of the city behind him.
"My family, we are very happy. We've got a loving family and a caring family. And the second thing in my heart is the City of Clarksburg, which I have proved for 16 years, and won five elections. And when I run again, I will win again. Thank you," Lopez said, after he was asked if he would give up his seat on council.
Lopez is currently sentenced to one year probation, which residents have said they feel is special treatment because of his position. Lopez has 20 days to appeal the judge's decision.
Jan 17, 2014 at 12:46 PMGood-ol-boy politics alive and well in WV. The verdict IS final. The appeal is the process used to overturn a final verdict. It is something that MAY be used by Mr. Lopez within 20 days if he disagrees with the verdict and can prove an error was made. Just because an appeal is filed doesn't mean it has enough merit or evidence to have the final verdict overturned.