Alcohol testing coming for Rosenberg city council members

ROSENBERG, Texas (KTRK) -- The Rosenberg city council approved by 4-3 vote a member's proposal to mandate drug and alcohol testing on elected officials, but with a catch.

Council member Isaac Davila's mandatory testing was on the agenda for Tuesday's city council meeting. Davila said he believes some of his colleagues are drinking before council meetings.

On Tuesday night, the majority of the council, including the mayor, voted in favor of the motion and for Davila to fund the tests.

The vote prompted a heated exchange between Davila and Mayor Bill Benton, who defeated Davila for the mayoral seat earlier this year.

It's unclear how much it would cost or when the council and mayor would be tested.

Before the meeting, Davila said elected officials should be held to the same standards as city employees. Davila also said he believes some council members aren't sober during council meetings.

"I suspect there is some alcohol use before meetings, and in my opinion, anybody working on city business shouldn't be under the influence of these chemicals, alcohol, or drugs," said Davila.

Though he wouldn't say which member or members he was referring to, he also said he has no evidence.

He said drug and alcohol tests would establish if there is a problem.

"The goal here is to make sure no one is using alcohol or drugs when they're conducting business," Davila said.

City council member Jacob Balderas made a motion to kill the proposal last month. He said Davila's allegation that council members are drinking before meetings isn't true.
"I believe everyone on the council has enough respect for the office and the citizens not to show up drunk, not to show up under the influence of any substance," said Balderas.

Davila ran for mayor earlier this year and lost, an outcome that Balderas believes might have fueled the council agenda item.

"He is upset and he is bitter," Balderas said. "That is why he's going and making a circus out of everything in order to serve some personal vendetta."

No matter the motive, Rosenberg neighbors ABC13 spoke with don't seem to mind the idea of elected officials receiving drug and alcohol screenings.

"Everyone should be drug tested," said Rosenberg resident Brandie Eason. "Nobody should be excluded. Everyone should have the same opportunities, right?"
Resident James Rusher said, "With that position, there's a lifestyle that you need to uphold. Those particular people are watched outside the offices and they need to lead the community."

Mandatory drug and alcohol testing would be hard to adopt, according to attorney Gerry Birnberg. He explained to ABC13 there's no state law that would allow mandatory testing on elected officials.

Birnberg also said if they voluntarily took a test, a positive result wouldn't be grounds to remove someone from office.

He said Rosenberg could adopt making drug and alcohol testing an option and informing voters who took the test and who did not.

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