LEON VALLEY, Texas – A special hearing to determine if Leon Valley Councilman Benny Martinez — who is accused of sexual harassment by another council member and a city staff member, violating the city charter and creating a hostile work environment — should be recused or keep his seat on the council is now on day four, with more than 20 hours of testimony.
Three out of the five council members not involved in the case and the mayor will determine the facts following days of testimony.
The issue has divided the small municipality: those who strongly support Martinez and those who think he’s not fit for the office.
Johnnie Garrett has already made up her mind.
“If you have a problem, they try to help you out, and that’s all (Martinez) has done, and there was no sexual harassment,” she said.
Some people think the hearing has dragged on, with those testifying allowed to ramble off topic. Marsha Blackmore said she just wants it to be done.
“Some of it is just frustrating. Answer the question and let’s move on,” she said.
The issue has pitted former council members against former and current council members.
Former council member David Edwards testified on Martinez’s behalf.
“I knew the city manager and some City Council (members) did not like the way (Martinez) behaved. They did not like the tone of his voice,” Edwards said.
Blackmore said once it’s all over, she hopes this won’t leave any hard feelings and permanent scars.
“They need to work together for the good of the citizens of Leon Valley, not for the good of themselves,” she said.
The investigation has already cost the city more than $60,000 and counting, including a lawsuit filed by Martinez to stop the hearing.
The hearings should wrap up Thursday, and deliberation by the council members is expected to follow.