City Council denies nomination for new mayor pro-tem

City Council members rejected Mayor Bill Hasting’s nomination of City Council Member Chris Harris to serve as mayor pro-tem at the July 8 Katy City Council meeting.

Hastings, who was elected mayor in May, put forth a motion to have Harris named mayor pro-tem. The position is currently held by Council Member Durran Dowdle.

Hastings credited Dowdle’s experience but stated that his decision to nominate Harris was based on Hastings’ need for more help in his mayoral duties. “Durran has done a wonderful job as mayor pro-tem, but I felt like I needed somebody who could fill in the voids of things that I couldn't attend.”

Due to Harris’ high-level of involvement in the community, Hastings noted, Harris is often in a position to help Hastings with his mayoral duties. “Chris has done a wonderful job of keeping me abreast of any complaints or issues,” said Hastings. “A lot of times he can even take care of them before he even tells me about them.” 

Council Member Frank Carroll III strongly opposed the motion, citing Dowdle’s experience as mayor pro-tem. “The question, I think, for this council is not whether or not to vote for Chris Harris; it is a vote against Durran Dowdle,” Carroll said. “He is our current mayor pro-tem. He has served with distinction for a number of years.”

Carroll asked Hastings if he believed Harris would be the more capable of serving the city should Hastings become incapacitated.

Carroll added, “I think given the fact that Durran is our mentor, he's a senior statesman and someone that's going to serve for another 10 months, I think it's a huge waste of a great resource to not have him in this critically important role.”

Council Member Janet Corte agreed with Carroll’s assessment. “We need somebody who can really step in and manage all aspects of the city, Corte said. “As much as I like and respect Chris, I have to go with experience.”

Harris defended his nomination, citing a long history of public aid as his experience. Harris served as a first responder in law enforcement and as a volunteer firefighter for over 20 years. 

Before the vote, Hastings addressed Carroll, saying, “In answer to your question, yes I fully believe he's capable of carrying on in my absence.”

Harris’ nomination was denied 3-2.

Council Member Jenifer Stockdick voted in favor of Harris’ nomination. Dowdle abstained from voting, resulting in an automatic vote of rejection. Corte and Carroll voted against the nomination. 

Carroll stated emphatically, “I think it’s pretty clear I vote no.”

Many citizens were outraged by the rejection. 

One resident who wished to remain anonymous said, “There’s more to experience than the number of days you’ve spent as a city council member. Chris is out in the community more than anyone else.”

On the City of Katy Residents Forum Facebook page, another resident said, “Harris is everywhere and supporting everything. When the softball team came in at midnight did Dowdle? I want to know.”

In response to the failed motion, Harris said, “The greatest honor of my life has been being elected council member by the people of Katy. Being refused a title by politicians only hurts my vanity for a little while. I'm going to continue working hard everyday for the residents of Katy.”