- Sanford Nowlin
- Attorney Woody Wilson speaks in front of the Bexar County Courthouse.
During a Wednesday news conference on the steps of Bexar County Courthouse, attorney Robert "Woody" Wilson said Judge Cathy Stryker determined that the chairs were removed in violation of state law and party rules. As of press time, no filing was available in the court records to confirm that claim. A transcript of the hearing was not immediately available.
"It's sad to have to go to court to assert our right to be precinct chairs with the party," Wilson said. "We shouldn't have to do that."
In a phone interview, BCDP Chairwoman Monica Alcantara said she agreed during the hearing to reinstate the four precinct chairs, but added that six other plaintiffs in the suit — including party Secretary Garrett Mormando and Treasurer Stephanie Carrillo — agreed to drop their claims as part of the settlement. Four of those were chairs removed for living in districts outside of the ones they represented, while Mormando and Carrillo were voted out during a contentious special meeting called by Alcantara in March.
Stryker has not yet signed off on an order closing the case, Alcantara added.
"I don't understand how [Wilson] could claim to have an order with him if they're still in the process of putting it together," she said.
The local Democratic party has been wracked by internal power struggles since Alcantara took over from Manuel Medina last year. Alcantara's camp argues that she's been forced to dismiss disruptive members still loyal to Medina, while critics claim she's conducting an illegal purge to concentrate her power.
Judge Sid Harle last month issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the chairwoman from dismissing any more precinct chairs.
According to both Wilson and Alcantara, Stryker declined to weigh in on whether Alcantara properly handled the removal of Mormando and Carrillo, saying the matter was outside of her jurisdiction.
Mormando said he plans to attend the party's next meeting with the assumption that party rules allow him to stay on. However, he added that he was aware Alcantara might try to prevent him.
"We'll have to move forward and have a [County Executive Committee] dialogue about the rules," he said. "The rules are in place for a reason. They're a check and balance on the chair."
Mormando added that nearly 30 additional precinct chairs are caught up in a purge that started under Alcantara's watch. Those individuals could take separate legal action to be reinstated, he added.
Online news site NowCastSA had its cameras at the press conference and posted the video below.