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Waurika City Commissioner Resigns Amid Turmoil

WAURIKA, Okla._ A heated argument Monday at Waurika City Hall between the mayor and a city commissioner ended with the commissioner quitting.

The whole thing started back in July when Commissioner Jeremie Wilson bought a home outside the city limits. The city attorney told Wilson he could remain in his position, but since he moved out of Waurika, he couldn't run for re-election. But, it escalated at last week's commissioners' meeting, when Wilson showed up and saw he had been removed from the agenda.

Ultimately, Commissioner Jeremie Wilson made the decision to resign from his position. But he did not go down without a fight that included lots of debate, questions, and a parting shot at the mayor.

"You ought to resign with me," said Wilson.

Former City Commissioner Jeremie Wilson didn't hold back his feelings Monday as the first line of the meeting's agenda called for the council to look at him acting out of line with the City Charter and Oklahoma State Statutes. But Wilson believes the city's mayor, Jim Bernard, is also at fault.

"Right now what this is,  it is no different than any other organization that is running criminal because you didn't have the right to pull those documents, you didn't have the right to do the agenda, and you did it," said Wilson.

The problem became apparent only one week ago when the mayor pulled Wilson's items from the agenda, even eliminating his name from the role call.

"I was told that they weren't written the way that it needed to be, and it was probably illegal the way it was," said Wilson.

But the problem was bigger than just that. The next day he got a letter from the city attorney telling him that he was no longer a city commissioner. It all stemmed from the fact that Wilson has two homes, one in the city limits and a new one that isn't, something the city attorney said was not a problem three months ago.

"I was willing to resign when it happened initially. When I first moved, I was told that I didn't need to. I took that at face value, but when it changed in that manner it told me something was a little more aloof. So that is when I said that I want legal guidance on this matter," said Wilson.

That guidance included finding an almost identical court case from 1977 in Waurika, where the judge allowed the commissioner to continue to serve. Wilson thought the case would provide precedent. But the Waurika City Council and Mayor didn't see it that way. And that's why Wilson went ahead and resigned Monday.

"I am not going to have any influence sitting here if the mayor does not agree with the fact that I am there nor another council member," said Wilson.

And City Manager Chuck Brown agrees that Wilson's resignation will help the council move forward.

"It's been a real contentious time, but I feel that Jeremie did the right thing by resigning," said Brown.

And despite his feelings that it was all a personal attack from the mayor, Wilson still wants the best from the city.

"I want the city to thrive. I want the city to do well. If that means me stepping down, that's fine," said Wilson.

Another problem with this fight is that the city's attorney resigned in the midst of the turmoil after accusations of providing legal advice that went against state statutes and the city's charter.

The city council will appoint an interim commissioner to fill Jeremie Wilson's open spot. Next April, they'll have a special election for voters to choose the person to serve the remainder of Wilson's term.



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