SAN ANTONIO — In a stunning show of support for their colleague, San Antonio city councilmembers rejected a formal call for District 10 representative Clayton Perry's resignation.
Instead, members censured Perry and executed a 'vote of no confidence' against him. They struck out language in the resolution calling for Perry's resolution after the councilman apologized for his involvement in a Nov. 6 car crash.
Police have since charged him with a misdemeanor for leaving the crash scene.
The councilman Monday announced he'll take a leave of absence to seek medical advice. He promised to seek rehab if a doctor recommended it.
Perry has not said whether he was drinking that night, but he acknowledged his actions caused the “accident” and apologized to the community and victims in the other car.
Perry gave a news conference from his District 10 field office, where he asked to take a sabbatical while the investigation continues. His City Council colleagues, along with all but one public speaker, signaled support for him during a special council meeting Monday afternoon.
“I am human and I made a bad decision. A huge one," Perry said. "I would ask that my colleagues show some compassion and patience in giving me time to make corrections for my most regrettable actions."
Police bodycam video released by SAPD shows Perry in his backyard, moaning with a cut on his head. He never said whether he was drinking earlier in the night, only that he'd “had a good time.”
A change of heart
Perry arrived to a round of applause during the special City Council meeting, where he greeted each council member and read the same statement he gave in a news conference earlier in the day.
Some of his constituents said they believe Perry has the right to due process.
“This motion is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. I don’t condone what he did but to fast track a vote like this is unprecedented,” Cesario Garcia read during the public comments.
In a wave of comments calling the resignation vote “political theater” and a rush of judgment, one speaker said Perry should have stepped down.
“You should be held accountable,” James Hamilton said giving Perry a pass was an example of white privilege.
City Council members felt Perry should get the time to recover while the investigation is ongoing.
“Drinking and driving and a hit and run are serious crimes. The evidence against Councilman Perry that has been made public to date looks damning, but there is a judicial process in place for handling Perry’s actions,” said Mario Bravo, who himself was issued a censure and vote of no confidence just last week following his own political scandal.
“This is a man worthy of compassion. And when a human being says, 'I need help and I need you to help me find that help,' I consider it my human obligation to throw him a lifeline,” said Manny Pelaez, of District 8.
Pelaez motioned to remove the language in the resolution asking for Perry to resign and the line that states he “has not expressed limited remorse or accountability.” It eventually passed, 8-1, with Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Perry abstaining.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who stated that Perry should resign if the allegations against Perry are true, doubled down on his stance.
“If what was in the police report turned out to be accurate, which I think the videos have shown to be so, I believe in the best interest of our city…and frankly for the best interest of Councilmember Perry getting well, he should step down," Nirenberg said. "I still believe that."
What’s next for District 10
Perry will not vote on city matters while on leave, meaning nearly 150,000 San Antonio residents do not currently have meaningful representation in City Hall.
To ensure voters are not deprived of their voice, councilmembers will appoint an interim representative for District 10.
Residents can apply for the position beginning Tuesday, according to city attorney Andy Segovia.
Applications will close on Nov. 28 and councilmembers will publicly interview up to three candidates on Nov. 30. They could select an interim member during the following council meeting.
Segovia said the panel will consider public input on the finalists, noting that members are appointing someone to fill an elected position. Members acknowledged Perry is often the lone conservative vote in City Hall.
"You all still deserve someone to cast a vote," councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia told Perry's constituents Monday. "You need someone on this dais that might not always agree with all of us."
Perry can return to his post any time he chooses, though he does not get to vote on who will serve as his fill-in.
"He can just tell us he’s ready…so its up to him,” Segovia told KENS 5.
Read Perry's full statement:
"I take full responsibility and wholly acknowledge that my actions caused the accident that occurred on the evening of Sunday, November 6th. I am genuinely sorry not only to the occupants of the other vehicle, but to my district neighbors, my staff and the city staff, my family and friends and the community as a whole. I know there could have easily been a much worse outcome and I am grateful to God that no one else was injured.
I humbly and respectfully ask for forgiveness. I have spent this past week convalescing, praying and reflecting on my bad decisions. At church yesterday morning, I was reminded that faith is a journey, not a destination. Faith gives us the confidence to be courageous. I have faith that I can be better, do better and make better decisions.
That being said, I have come to the conclusion that while waiting for the investigation to conclude, I am requesting a sabbatical from my duties as D10 Councilman. During this time, I will be taking the appropriate measures as determined by medical professionals to ensure this will never happen again. I commit wholeheartedly to whatever course of action or rehabilitation they recommend. I take my responsibilities as an elected official to District 10 and the City of San Antonio very seriously.
Aside from my military career, public service has been the greatest privilege of my life. I sincerely apologize to the community for not living up to the standards and values you all deserve and I have sworn to uphold. I pledge to do whatever it takes to regain your confidence. Although I do not intend to resign my seat, I am asking for some time for me to heal, for due process to play out and for a little humanity and compassion.
I am human and I made a bad decision. A huge one. I would ask that my colleagues show some compassion and patience in giving me time to make corrections for my most regrettable actions instead of rushing this resolution through today. At the end of the day, it is my belief that the people of District 10 who elected me should be the ones who decide who sits in this office.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out with kind words of encouragement. It has not gone on deaf ears. I hope to regain the respect and trust that each of you has given me over the past six years."