McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson abruptly left Tuesday’s court meeting 30 minutes after it started, despite the fact that the court had yet to discuss an agenda item that staff said Gibson previously had requested be held until he was present.
During a break in the meeting, County Judge Scott Felton said Gibson slipped him a note to say he was leaving to campaign. Felton said it is the same reason why Gibson missed last week’s meeting.
Gibson, reached by phone, said he didn’t slip Felton a note, but if he did leave to go campaign for his seat, “So what?”
Gibson, 65, a Democrat, is up for re-election and faces Republican opponent Tony Abad, 46, on Nov. 4.
At last week’s meeting, staff asked the court to delay a vote on two agenda items at Gibson’s request because he couldn’t attend.
Gibson said Tuesday he asked staff to delay action on the potential use of a county-owned building in Mart. That item was handled before he left Tuesday.
“I’m a politician. I’m campaigning. But this had nothing to do with politics,” Gibson said about missing the meetings. The commissioners court meets at 9 a.m. every Tuesday.
When pressed about what he was doing, Gibson said “prior engagements.”
The second agenda item, a sick-day policy for which county staff thought Gibson wanted to be present, was discussed after he left. Gibson later said the sick-day policy was “doomed for failure from jump street,” so he wasn’t going to waste his time sticking around.
Gibson said Commissioner Ben Perry sponsored the agenda item on the sick-day policy, then turned around and voted against it — something Gibson said he would never do.
Gibson said his word is his bond and he’s not “wishy-washy.”
Perry said he polled his constituents about the policy and the majority were against it, which his why he voted the way he did Tuesday.
“If he wants to call that wishy-washy, he’s quite wishy-washy himself,” Perry said. “We need the policy put in place, and there were several people who called in and spoke their opinions on this. All I ever hear from him is, ‘We don’t deliberate enough,’ and unfortunately he wasn’t there for the last two meetings where we deliberated this policy.”
During Gibson’s absence, the court voted 4-0 to write a policy that disallows the practice of allowing county employees to be able to recover accrued sick time and benefits if they leave their positions to become elected officials and then return to county employment.
Gibson also commented that Felton should mind his own business and that the county judge probably said Gibson was politicking during the meeting because he’s likely campaigning against Gibson.
“This is the worst court I’ve ever served with,” said Gibson, who has been a commissioner for nearly a quarter-century.