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Mayor of Celina resigns midterm
Celina mayor Jim Lewis resigned last Thursday with more than a year left on his current three-year term.
Celina City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Todd McCally will take over mayoral responsibilities until a special election is held to name who will fill the remainder of Lewis’ term.
Lewis recently sold his house in Celina and no longer resides within the city – a requirement for serving as mayor under the city charter. The sale of his home served as a precursor to his resignation, which he turned in effective immediately two weeks after the deal on his home closed.
Lewis, who owns a construction company, originally planned on building a smaller home on land he owned within Celina, but after his former house spent an extended period of time on the market without selling, he began building on the plot for someone else. When his house eventually sold, he was left without a residence within the city and instead of securing one to finish out his term, he opted to resign, saying it was “the right thing do for Celina.”
“Just when you think you've got everything planned out, you find out God has a different plan,” Lewis said.
His resignation closed the more than a decade he spent holding office in Celina. He was first elected to city council in 2001 and spent eight years there before being elected mayor in 2008. He ran unopposed for his second and current term as mayor in 2011.
Lewis' resignation will not be official until its accepted by the city council during a meeting scheduled for Monday. At that time, the council will introduce two resolutions: one accepting the mayor's resignation, and another calling for a special election to fill his mayoral term, which runs through May 2014.
The city charter states the election must be held within 120 days of the mayor's resignation. The city plans to hold the election Feb. 2. The resolution calling the election will establish dates by which candidates must declare for the race, though McCally has already said he will run.
In the interim, McCally will handle all the duties the mayor normally would, but he will not officially be mayor. He will serve in a dual role, retaining his city council vote. The mayor does not vote unless there is a 3-3 tie among council members.
“He will fill in for the mayor just like he would in any instances that the mayor is not there, ceremonial or in council meetings,” said David Gaines, Celina assistant city manager. “So during council meetings, he will be leading the meeting.”
McCally has been the mayor pro tem since June and has already filled in for the mayor on several occasions. He said he wasn't surprised by Lewis' resignation – city leadership was informed beforehand – though he is disappointed.
“We're certainly going to miss his passion,” McCally said. “We're going to miss his guidance and the leadership that he has provided for the past decade plus for the citizens of Celina. We hope that he stops in and visits us.”
Lewis pointed to the revitalization of the downtown square and the growth of the city police and fire departments as high points of his tenure, as well as “putting the future of Celina on an organized track,” though he was quick to point out that those were shared accomplishments.
“As politicians, all we do is put in place work that other people design and do,” Lewis said. “We give people a vehicle to do their job.”
Lewis plans to redirect his time toward his business and mission work both internationally and locally.
“We want to do a lot to help people who are less fortunate,” he said.