There was one absent council member from the Sept. 12 Gonzales City Council meeting: Councilman Gary Schroeder. News broke last week of Schroeder’s indictment and subsequent arrest on Sept. 8, 2019. The councilman was indicted by a Gonzales County grand jury on a felony charge of third-degree attempted sexual assault. According to court documents, the charges stem from a 2017 incident where Schroeder allegedly inappropriately touched an individual.
An indictment is not proof of guilt and Councilman Schroeder will ultimately have his fate decided in a court of law, but his absence from the latest meeting raised questions of his current status on council.
Currently, Schroeder still holds his position at least until the term expires in 2021. The city confirmed Wednesday it had not received any notice of resignation. “The Inquirer” reached out to Schroeder for further explanation but was unable to contact him prior to publication.
The city charter prohibits council from voting on each other’s removal. If a sitting city council member is to be removed by vote, it must be accomplished either during a regularly scheduled election or via petitioning and a subsequent recall election. The city also said it had not been alerted to the filing of any petitions calling for his or any other council members removal.
There are other factors in the city’s charter that could affect Schroeder’s future status on the council. One sticking point is the city’s three absences rule, where if a council member is absent without valid reason from three consecutive regularly scheduled meetings, special meetings or council workshops the seat must be declared vacant. A “valid excuse” is determined by council action. It’s unclear if Schroeder provided a reason for his Sept. 12 absence.
Lastly, if Schroeder is brought to trial and convicted, his status as an eligible voter would be revoked and, as per the charter, he would be ineligible to serve on council.