Mark Mathews will remain the mayor of Keller — by a small margin.
The embattled mayor survived an effort to be recalled, 53.65 percent to 46.35 percent, in unofficial returns from Saturday’s election.
His term ends in May 2017.
In the city of 43,000 people, 2,103 people voted “no,” against the recall, according to the unofficial results from Tarrant County.
There were fewer votes in support of the recall — 1,817 — than accepted signatures on the recall petition — 1,981.
Mathews could not be reached for comment after the results were in, and neither could Linda Taylor, spokeswoman for the group that organized the recall effort.
Late last year, a group of Keller residents circulated a petition to recall Mathews, saying he has violated state law and the city ethics policy by involving himself in city matters that would benefit him and/or his family. Nearly 2,000 signatures were verified in January, and a recall election was ordered.
Since then, Mathews has vigorously defended himself against the recall group.
Mathews calls the petitioners a Washington-style special-interest group that wants to stop development in Keller and, after helping him get elected, is unhappy with the way he has voted on development proposals.
Taylor, a former Mathews supporter who denies that the recall has anything to do with politics, continues to bring up an additional issue where she believes Mathews unethically used his office to help a relative.
Mathews launched the Protect Keller website and used social media pushes to encourage residents to vote against his recall.
His opposition, which calls itself Citizens for Municipal Integrity, also launched a website, recallkellermayor.com, and posted several videos on YouTube urging residents to vote yes because “the facts are black and white.”
Taylor and the petition say Mathews involved himself in a few City Council matters that benefited his neighborhood, his wife’s employer and a developer run by a former co-worker, who is also his step-daughter’s uncle.
The recall petition centers around him not recusing himself from council agenda items during a July 21 meeting and other council discussions during the summer involving his wife’s employer, The Sage Group, and SilverOak Real Estate, where his step-daughter’s uncle, Kelly Dykes, is president.
City Council video shows Mathews participating in the discussion of a proposed development by SilverOak. The Sage Group was listed on the agenda as the designer of the development. The petition calls this a conflict of interest and a violation of the city’s ethics policy.
Mathews voted in favor of the proposal, which was deadlocked in the first vote before Mathews called for a recess, encouraged further discussion and ultimately passed 4-2 in a re-vote.
Mathews has stated publicly that before SilverOak and The Sage Group came before City Council, he asked City Attorney Stan Lowry if his wife’s job with The Sage Group would be a conflict of interest, and Mathews said he was told by Lowry that it would not. Lowry confirmed this statement with the Star-Telegram in February.
The other point in the petition alleges that Mathews was involved in an agreement between the city and Meritage Homes, the developer of his neighborhood, Marshall Ridge, in June 2014 when Meritage cut down too many trees in some lots and instead of paying a fine to the city, it paid $38,300 to the neighborhood HOA, with which Mathews was involved.
Mathews denied many times that he had any involvement in the agreement, which was handled by former City Manager Steve Polasek, who said the agreement was “allowable” and had been approved by the city attorney.
Through a public information request, the Star-Telegram obtained a copy of an email from Mathews to Polasek, in which Mathews said he “would like to have more conversation around staff’s position on this before a final commitment is made to Meritage,” a few days after the trees were cut down.
Keller council races
Council seats were up in Places 3 and 4 in Keller.
In Place 3, four candidates ran to replace Tom Cawthra, who chose to not seek re-election, and none of them received a majority of the vote.
According to unofficial results: David Gregoire had 5 percent; Mitch Holmes, 33 percent; Stephanie Setzer, 18 percent; and Ed Speakmon, 43 percent, .
This forces a runoff election between Speakmon, an auto repair businessman who served as a Marine, and Holmes, a director at Gateway Church and a City Council member from 2003-11.
In Place 4, incumbent Bill Dodge was challenged by Eric Schmidt and it came down to the wire, with Schmidt, a retired engineer, barely edging out Dodge by a count of 1,779 votes to 1,761, according to the unofficial results.
Dodge, who owns a local building company, said Saturday night that he hasn’t decided whether he will request a recount.