CONVERSE — Kate Silvas is out as a councilwoman, but city politicos still face a legal fight over their 2019 attempt to oust her from the dais.
The 4th Court of Appeals May 20 reversed a temporary injunction issued by a state district court that kept Silvas on the City Council since October, but also sent her case back to the trial court to weigh if town leaders acted outside their authority when they removed her from office.
Officials held a closed-door meeting June 2 to discuss Silvas’ vacant Place 4 seat. The city on its website sought applications from residents interested in the spot, with a June 12 deadline.
The legal case is currently in a “stationary pattern,” said Scott Tschirhart, the city’s attorney.
At press time, he awaited direction from the municipality on whether to appeal the latest ruling or go to trial.
According to court records, Silvas filed suit against the town after fellow council members dismissed her following a request for documents regarding commercial permits.
City officials claim she asked municipal employees to process an inordinate amount of paperwork.
The town’s charter prohibits council members from dealing directly with metropolitan workers on government matters without first consulting the city manager.
Silvas — who was granted a temporary injunction in November to remain on the council until a trial was conducted — maintains that she did not violate the charter, and her removal was politically motivated.
She unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Al Suarez for the mayor’s seat last fall.
Suarez and Converse City Manager Le Ann Piatt are named in the suit. Both declined to comment to LOCAL Community News on the legal case, but Suarez did issue a release May 27 on the city’s website.
“We are pleased that the Court of Appeals upheld the will of the citizens of the city of Converse as expressed in the City Charter and dismissed the majority of former Councilmember Silvas’ lawsuit,” Suarez said in his statement. “We anticipate that the remaining claim will be disposed of in a timely manner.”
The municipal release also noted, “The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court should have dismissed this claim and the Court reversed the trial court’s order on this issue. The Court of Appeals also dismissed all of Silvas’ claims against the city of Converse. The Court left open the question as to whether the remaining defendants properly exercised their authority in declaring Silvas’ seat forfeited and in seeking to fill her position.”
Silvas said she is an advocate for open government.
“I didn’t ask for anything that I shouldn’t be asking for,” said Silvas, who estimates spending $30,000 on her legal battle. “I am doing everything above board.”
Silvas said she wants to promote transparency in government by seeking financial information on annexation and other city endeavors.
Prior to being elected to the council in 2018, Silvas said there existed a strong relationship between herself and Suarez when she was the director of the Economic Development Corp.
The connection became strained, Silvas added, when she objected to the city’s proposed cut of the EDC’s half-cent sales and revenue tax program.
Municipal leaders in 2018 said the funds were needed for street repairs.