A North Texas city council, after apparently chasing one of their own into resigning his seat, voted unanimously to appoint his opponent—who has a criminal record—to finish the term, drawing an outcry from citizens. The councilman who resigned was the only one who stood against the city banning citizens from recording city officials without notification.

On April 13, the Watauga City Council voted to ban citizens from recording city officials without notification. Under Texas state law, one party to a conversation may record it without notifying the other parties.

Only Place 1 Councilman Scott Prescher voted against the measure.

“Making it an ordinance where you’re going to have private citizens be guilty because they felt they needed to record a conversation because of past experience is a bit much,” he said. He also alleged the council tried to hide the measure in the consent agenda to avoid debate.

In retaliation for his vote and for bringing the ordinance to light, council voted on April 20 to remove Prescher as the liaison to two committees. Days later, Prescher resigned.

On May 11, Watauga City Council unanimously voted 6-0 to appoint Danielle Tucker—who was set to oppose Prescher on the ballot this November—to finish Prescher’s term rather than allowing voters to decide her fitness for office.

Texas Scorecard received documents from Tarrant County showing Tucker was found guilty of drug possession in 2018 and pleaded guilty to credit card abuse in 2004.

“At the current time, I have no comment; and any regards to any criminal allegations can be forwarded to my attorney, and that information can be given as needed,” Tucker told Texas Scorecard.

“Last night, the city council knowingly allowed in someone who has an actual criminal record of credit card theft and drug possession,” Prescher stated on May 12. “Every council member is aware of her criminal past, yet they knowingly voted her in.”

He also alleged Tucker filed “false ethics cases” against council members. Texas Scorecard received a copy of a complaint Tucker filed against Prescher at the Texas Ethics Commission, as well as a copy of a letter from the TEC dismissing the complaint.

Mayor Arthur Miner did not respond to questions regarding Tucker’s appointment, but the City of Watauga did issue a public statement:

“The alleged criminal record of the person appointed does not disqualify that person from serving as a City Councilmember. Moreover, the action by the City Council was to fill the vacancy in Place 1 that is vacant as a result of the combination of COVID-19 delaying the election and the resignation of a Councilmember. The person appointed was the only remaining eligible candidate and is not disqualified from serving in the office of City Councilmember.

 

“Appointing the only remaining eligible candidate into the Office sought, upon it becoming vacant, is reasonable, fulfills the policy set by the citizens of the City of Watauga set forth in its City Charter, is in the furtherance of the democratic process and provides the candidate the opportunity to serve as she is entitled, preserving the individual liberties guaranteed to the people to be able to participate in their city government as fully as the democratic process allows.”

“So maybe it’s time WE THE PEOPLE vote to amend our city charter and possibly recall the current council,” Jaclyn Armontrout commented on Facebook. “Maybe we need a clean sweep and a fresh start.”

“Character is everything to me,” Natalee Martinez added.

“So we allow criminals to run our city. Good to know how trashy Watauga is now,” Justin Green posted. “Imagine letting anyone with credit card theft be in control of anything.”

“I would be ok with the 18-year-old conviction because it was so long ago,” Melissa Moore wrote. “But two years ago, she was in possession of drugs. Not what I want our kids looking up to.”

“Too bad the city council ran off the most qualified person who already had the role,” wrote Heather von Tater.

Concerned Watauga residents may contact their city council members and Mayor Miner.

Mayor Arthur Miner: 817-301-4877
Place 2 Councilman Tom Snyder: 817-524-8287
Place 3 Councilwoman Lovie Downey: 817-524-8170
Place 4 Councilman Andrew Neal: 817-524-9944
Place 5 Councilwoman Juanita King: 817-524-8464
Place 6 Councilman Mark Taylor: 817-217-6571
Place 7 Councilwoman Kim Irving: 682-888-4393

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.

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