Clarksburg City Council unanimously voted for Sam "Zeke" Lopez to step down from his Council seat and that a conviction for domestic assault violates moral turpitude.
The meeting began with a statement from Lopez explaining why he thought the meeting and topic both were unconstitutional.
His statement reads as follows:
"It's unconstitutional and I will read some items here that prove it's unconstitutional and illegal. West Virginia code 61-2-28 is a misdemeanor it's not by any statutory provision or by any division of the West Virginia Supreme Court of appeal a crime involved moral turpitude. Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution of West Virginia provides as follows: No person except citizens entitled to vote shall be elected of appointed by any state, county, or municipal office. This constitutional provision is the exclusive authority of the establishment of qualifications from Municipal Office and any qualifications in excess of this Constitution provision are unconstitutional by its very term.
"Marr Vs. Zinc 1979, Section 5 in the City Charter of Clarksburg, West Virginia, is unconstitutional to extend an additional qualification upon a citizen seeking to hold municipal office. There is no provision of this charter of the city of Clarksburg, WV, which provides its defendants with the authority to judge and determine the qualification of members of the city council.
"Pursue to Section 7 of the Charter, the members of City Council are granted certain pass. Those passes granted by the charter of Clarksburg, WV do not include the power to determine qualification of members of City Council. The council exceeded their authorities of members of the city council of the city of Clarksburg, WV by exceeding that authority they have injured and damaged a plaintiff. These members know or should know that the provision of the charter which they seek to enforce during the February 13, 2004 (2014) special meeting is unconstitutional, as it violates Article 4 Section 4 of the constitution of WV.
"And the only thing I'd like to say which was discussed last meeting, as I hope whatever turns out here tonight is the last time. I mean there are certain members of this council, really what's behind all of this is getting rid of our City Manager, Mr. Martin, a close friend of mine. There's more to this that meets the eye. People that these people have trusted come to me and I will tell the people that are against Martin and want to get rid of him…but I'm telling you it's more. It's not about my wife, it's about me, it's about getting rid of the City Manager. They don't care about Clarksburg if they did, it'd be over with. When I read the newspaper, that people don't understand how to vote, they're the ones that need to get off the couch, if you don't understand how to vote. I mean that's an embarrassment to Clarksburg. If I'm embarrassing people that make comments like that are definitely embarrassing.
"I feel it won't stop tonight unless they get their way but my family wants it over with. We want Clarksburg to grow and I've been big part of what Clarksburg is today, I don't care what anybody says…but you are also taking away the votes of the people that did elect me, by doing what you're doing tonight.
"If you think it's fair to the citizens of Clarksburg ….What about the people who voted for me? I guess they don't count; people you don't count. That is what these people up here are telling you, when they vote tonight. That's all I have to say on the matter."
Lopez then excused himself from the meeting.
Clarksburg residents seem to be in agreement they are looking forward to moving on and getting past the issue.
Clarksburg Mayor Cathy Goings expressed the decision needed to be made and said it has been emotional for everyone involved.
"We, as a council, have been struggling with this for the past seven and a half months and it's unfortunate we had to get to this point but we had to draw closure to this," Goings said. "We have so many positive things going on in the city right now we've got to move forward."
Members of City Council now have 30 days to fill Lopez's seat. If members can't reach an agreement by majority, the seat will go to the next highest vote-getter from the most recent election.