San Antonio – After less than two months away, embattled City of San Antonio Councilman Clayton Perry returned from a leave of absence and took his seat Thursday morning’s council meeting.
At the start of Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Ron Nirenberg — who doubled down Wednesday on his statement that Perry should resign “if the allegations...are true” — turned the time over to Perry to allow him to make a statement.
“I’m glad to be back from my leave of absence and have a lot to be thankful for,” Perry said at the start of his statement.
Perry said he was thankful that nobody was injured during his Nov. 6 hit-and-run crash and that he had time off “to work on me.”
“I want to assure everyone that I kept my commitment I made at the last meeting to follow all the appropriate measures as recommended by medical experts and will continue to do so,” Perry said. “l’m not done and again ask for everyone’s compassion and forgiveness. I’m 100 percent devoted to ensuring this never happens again and to regain your confidence.”
Perry asked for compassion and forgiveness and said he was ready to get back to work.
Watch the full statement below:
Although he faces misdemeanor DWI and failure to stop and provide information charges for his self-admitted role in a Nov. 6 hit-and-run crash, Perry has not been convicted — meaning nothing stands in his way from returning to his role as councilman.
Council members confirmed the North Side councilman had reached out to them about his plans to return. And, in a Wednesday letter to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Manager Erik Walsh, City Attorney Andy Segovia and City Clerk Debbie Racca-Sittre, he formally announced his intentions to resume his duties as District 10 councilman beginning Thursday.
“By this notification I assert that I have sufficiently addressed the issues that prevented me from carrying out my duties as a Council member,” Perry wrote in the letter.
Perry did not return phone calls or text messages from KSAT seeking comment Wednesday afternoon, and he did not answer questions from KSAT Reporter Garrett Brnger before Thursday’s meeting.
Watch below: Embattled City of San Antonio Councilman Clayton Perry arrives for first council meeting after two-month leave of absence.
Council members appointed Mike Gallagher, the previous District 10 councilman, to temporarily fill Perry’s seat on Dec. 1.
Gallagher told KSAT Wednesday “with any luck, we should see him here tomorrow morning.”
“He’s been through some pretty good rehabilitation. And I think it’s been very, very helpful for him,” Gallagher said, but deferred questions about the “rehabilitation” to Perry himself.
Police have accused Perry of drinking 14 drinks in four hours at a bar and then driving his Jeep Wrangler Rubicon head-on into another car, before fleeing the scene. A San Antonio Police officer later found Perry lying on the ground in his backyard, moaning with a cut on his head and smelling of alcohol.
After reports of the crash broke and he was booked on Nov. 14 for the failure to stop and provide information charge, Perry took what he originally called a “sabbatical” on Nov. 14.
“During this time, I’ll be taking the appropriate measures as determined by medical professionals to ensure this will never, never happen again. I commit wholeheartedly to whatever course of action or rehabilitation they recommend,” Perry said at the time.
He made his announcement the same day as a special city council meeting at which his fellow council members passed a vote of “no-confidence.” However, most of the council first voted to strip the resolution of language asking Perry to resign his seat as the District 10 councilman.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg was the only one to vote against stripping the resignation request from the motion.
Nirenberg told KSAT in an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon, “I have been clear from the very start. If the allegations against Councilman Perry are true, he should resign from City Council. In the absence of a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, City Council lacks the authority to remove a member.”
Meanwhile, Perry abstained from voting on the amendment to the resolution along with District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez.
McKee-Rodriguez said Wednesday “I did immediately regret not voting ‘no.’”
The other eight council members all voted in favor of dropping the resignation request.
At the time, Perry was only facing a charge of failure to stop and provide information. However, after further investigation, SAPD filed a DWI case with prosecutors for which Perry was eventually booked on Dec. 28.
“I think in light of new details, it may have been different for some,” said District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran.
District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda said she did not regret her vote.
“I said at the time he was a man that asked for forgiveness, and my faith doesn’t allow me to deny forgiveness of a man that’s asking for it,” Cabello Havrda said Wednesday. “I mean, it’s not my call. You know, it’s really between him and his his constituents.”
His seat is up for election on the May 6 ballot. It is not clear yet if Perry plans to run again.
Perry has a scheduled court appearance for both charges on Jan. 24 via zoom. He is scheduled to be arraigned in the DWI case on Jan. 30.