Mission city councilman plans to resign, become city attorney

The Mission City Council offered City Councilman Gus Martinez the city attorney position Wednesday.

Gustavo “Gus” Martinez, 49, of Mission joined the City Council in June 2018. He spent about 10 years with Austin-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, which collects delinquent taxes, and serves as a municipal judge in Alton.

City of Mission logo“I welcome the opportunity,” Martinez said. “It’s a lifelong dream to serve the city in this capacity. I won’t let the city down.”

City Councilman Ruben Plata motioned to offer Martinez the job, contingent on his resignation and replacement.

The city attorney advises the City Council at meetings and serves as in-house counsel for Mission, handling everything from contracts to public information requests.

Members of the City Council approved the motion 3-1.

Mayor Armando “Doc” O’caña voted against the motion. Martinez didn’t attend the meeting to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

O’caña said he voted against offering Martinez the job because he believed Martinez should serve a full term on the City Council.

“It’s nothing personal against Gus Martinez,” O’caña said, adding that he made the decision based on principle.

Mission spent months searching for a city attorney.

The search started in December, when City Attorney Abiel Flores resigned after three years with Mission. Flores earned $160,000 annually, according to city salary records.

Applicants included former Donna City Councilwoman Cathy Alvarado, who works for the Hidalgo County Public Defender’s Office; attorney Guillermo “Will” Trevino of Dallas, who previously advised the city of Fort Worth; and several local lawyers.

Underwhelmed by the applicants, Martinez applied.

That placed the City Council in a bind. Along with legal and ethical questions, the application forced Martinez to recuse himself — and left the City Council without any way to break a tie when debating the issue.

The City Council offered the position to Trevino, but he turned down the job, said City Councilwoman Norie Gonzalez Garza. They took another look at the applicants before selecting Martinez.

“Gus is from the city of Mission. He’s passionate about the city,” Gonzalez Garza said, adding that Martinez impressed her during the interview process. “And so I am very happy that we’re extending the opportunity for Gus.”

If the City Council selects a consensus candidate to replace him, Martinez may resign on May 13.

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