Hewitt City Council member Matthew Mevis announced his resignation Friday evening and claimed harassment by a former city council member is forcing his sudden departure four months after he was elected.
Mevis submitted his resignation via email to council members, City Attorney Mike Dixon and other city officials.
“I am proud of our community’s civic spirit, and I am sorry to be leaving before my term is over,” he wrote. “However, due to the repeated, unending, and escalating attacks against my family’s mental and financial well-being, all without any seeming provocation, ability to seek redress, and with local agencies seemingly incapable of intervention on our behalf, I can no longer sustain the energy to perform my duties with the focus and dedication they deserve.”
In an interview after he sent the letter, Mevis said what he believes is harassment, including harassment of his family, by former council member Kurt Krakowian has forced him to resign. Mevis was elected in May to represent Ward 2 after incumbent James Vidrine chose not to run for re-election. He ran unopposed.
Mevis said Krakowian has used social media, phone calls to his workplace and inaccurate statements about his wife to discredit him as a public official. He said he has filed complaints with Hewitt police but feels nothing has been done to address his concerns.
“I don’t really care about the attack against me per se because at the time I was a public figure and that sort of goes with the territory. I am fine with that,” Mevis said. “When the information was presented, Mr. Krakowian had no interest in understanding the specific circumstances.”
Krakowian was appointed to the council in March 2018 and resigned that July after multiple city officials had filed complaints against him. He ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the council in May.
After hearing of Mevis’ resignation, Krakowian said he had filed open records requests with proper authorities and worked to inform the public.
He has claimed Mevis’ wife is a convicted felon and that Mevis helped her hide from law enforcement.
Court records state Mevis’ wife completed deferred adjudication probation in 2013 to have a felony theft charge dismissed. She was not convicted in that case and has no conviction on her record.
Krakowian said he informed the public about Mevis’ wife because he felt the public had a right to know. He said he also learned Mevis owed back taxes while on the council.
“I don’t think it’s harassment when it’s bringing whatever you’ve done, good or bad, into public view,” Krakowian said. “I believe public officials should be held at a higher standard and if we do find there is an issue, the only recourse we have is our voice.”
Mevis said he attempted to resolve these issues with Krakowian previously but was unsuccessful. Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said a complaint has been filed in connection to the case and that it remains under investigation.
In March, Ruth Coffman and Karen Fortenberry, wife of council member Steve Fortenberry, filed a lawsuit in 170th State District Court, alleging Krakowian harassed, stalked, intimidated and threatened them between May and February. The women and Krakowian settled their lawsuit in April.
Two other former city employees, Cassie Rose Muske and Belinda Kay “Katie” Allgood, filed complaints with the state against Mayor Ed Passalugo and Krakowian, claiming both officials retaliated against them after they filed discrimination complaints in May 2018. The complaints and subsequent lawsuits were later settled. Muske and Allgood have also left their jobs with the city.
Shortly after Mevis announced his resignation Friday, Mayor Charlie Turner said the council would consult with the city attorney and City Manager Bo Thomas before deciding how to move forward.