Speakers representing 129 petitioners asked the Hewitt City Council on Monday to terminate city attorney Mike Dixon and seek the “most qualified” attorney through an interview process with the council.

The council retreated to executive session to discuss Dixon’s employment but took no action afterward. Mayor Charlie Turner said he and council member Steve Fortenberry had asked for the executive session agenda item on Dixon.

The petition marks a continuation of political unrest that began more than a year ago in the suburban town as employees and council members accused the mayor and other council members of harassment and illegal meetings, leading to an investigation by a third-party law firm from Fort Worth.

Dixon, who was hired in September to replace fired longtime city attorney Charles Buenger by a 4-2 vote. In January, he drew Fortenberry’s criticism when he summarized the investigation, pinning most of the blame on former City Manager Adam Miles and Katie Allgood, a city administrator who had made complaints against the mayor and council.

Dixon attended Monday’s meeting and remained silent during public comments, some in favor of Dixon and some against.

“Every candidate in the most recent election for Hewitt City Council ran on a platform of giving the city a fresh start and putting aside the issue that have divided the council in the recent past,” Hewitt resident Beth Oakley said, reading from the petition 129 residents signed seeking to terminate Dixon.

“We believe the city could be well served by choosing a new city attorney selected using standard hiring practices, including posting the position, vetting the applicants and interviews of the most qualified by the entire council.”

As Oakley read the petition to council members, fellow resident Ann Schiltz passed out copies of the petition and signatures to council members and Dixon.

Former Mayor Ed Passalugo, who did not seek re-election in May, spoke in favor of Dixon’s work as city attorney. Passalugo suggested hiring Dixon and his law firm, Haley & Olson, P.C., to represent Hewitt.

Passalugo said Fortenberry, who served as mayor pro tem when Passalugo was mayor, has always questioned Dixon’s intentions for the city. He said Fortenberry’s distaste for Dixon likely fueled the agenda item, but firing Dixon lacked cause.

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Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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