Drama, mudslinging between Kemah mayor and council members leaves city government in dysfunction

Briana Conner Image
Thursday, July 21, 2022
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People in Kemah are, in essence, left without a functioning government. One person told ABC13 that the meetings remind them more of a student council than a city council.

KEMAH, Texas (KTRK) -- There was high drama Wednesday night at Kemah's City Council meeting. The mayor and council members are at odds over several issues including social media, guns, and money.

People in Kemah are, in essence, left without a functioning government. One person told ABC13 that the meetings remind them more of a student council than a city council.

Mayor Carl Joiner has been adding the same controversial issues to the agenda again and again. Only for council members to vote them down every time. Each issue basically breaks down five to one.

Joiner wants to consider an ordinance about guns in city hall. The council members don't agree. Joiner wants the power to sign checks on behalf of the city. Council members won't allow it and said they don't trust him. Joiner wants to create ad hoc committees. Council members argued they aren't necessary.

Mudslinging on social media is also an issue. The mayor wants anyone associated with the city to agree not to post anything negative about Kemah online, but council members said they aren't backing down from using their First Amendment rights.

The dysfunction among leaders in the room makes it almost impossible to get things done for people who live in, or visit, Kemah for the extent of Joiner's term.

"It doesn't look like, over the next 10 months, they're gonna allow me to move the city forward. We'll see," Joiner said.

"It's normal to have disagreements in council. What you normally do is work through those disagreements and move forward. What happens here is you get slandered, or sued, or plastered across social media," Isaac Saldaña, who holds Council Position 5, said.

Joiner would not say whether he would continue adding the controversial items to the agenda. To note, there was a discussion on Wednesday night about how to deal with Kemah's "reputation as having hateful and disgusting politics" and maintaining decorum at meetings.

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