Shenandoah, February 19 – City of Shenandoah Mayor Ritch Wheeler and City Administrator Kathie Reyer have made clear that, in the event reform challenger Andrea Konzem, a 33-year resident of Shenandoah, defeats incumbent City Councilman Ted Fletcher, whom Konzem is challenging in the May 4, 2019, election, then Konzem’s daughter Steffani will lose her job with the Shenandoah Convention & Visitors Bureau. Konzem filed to run against Fletcher as a reform candidate for City Council on Friday, February 15, 2019.
Reyer notified 31-year-old Steffani Konzem, who is a single parent of young children after her husband died in a tragic accident, that Reyer will terminate her employment or force her to resign, if her mother, Andrea, a 58-year-old lady, wins the election.
Shenandoah has no law or ordinance against nepotism. In fact, John Houston, who was recently on the Shenandoah City Council, served at the same time as when his daughter-in-law was the City’s Pool Director. At least one other City Council member in Shenandoah has served at the same time as when his child was a City employee.
Without a nepotism prohibition, the City falls under the general nepotism law in the Texas Government Code, which does not prohibit a person from serving on a municipal council or board or on a County Commissioners Court, even if that person’s child or relative is an employee of the governmental entity. That’s how former Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal got away with procuring a job for his daughter and Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley has gotten away with creating and procuring a job for his wife Deanne (in the infamous “Riley 2-Step”).
Konzem, a staunch conservative who has supported lower taxes and government ethics, has criticized both Mayor Wheeler and Councilman Fletcher on social media in the past. She had nothing to do with her daughter’s job. In particular, Konzem has criticized Wheeler, who receives a salary for his work as Mayor, for the small amount of time Wheeler devotes to his job duties.
Wheeler considers Fletcher a political ally. During the past weekend, after Konzem filed to run against Fletcher, both Wheeler and Fletcher contacted area elected officials and some conservative leaders to try to get conservatives to support Fletcher. While Fletcher’s voting record has been anti-conservative, one of the major criticisms of the incumbent City Councilman has been the extent to which his wife Maritza Giselle “Ritzy” Fletcher has disrupted City Council meetings and other community events.
The Golden Hammer has confirmed through four (4) confidential sources inside of Shenandoah City Hall, who requested anonymity for fear of the same type of reprisal about which this article concerns, that Wheeler instructed Reyer to threaten Steffani Konzem prior to Reyer actually doing so.
Under Texas law, specifically Section 36.06 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm another by an unlawful act to prevent or delay the service of another as a “public servant.” “Public servant” includes a candidate for nomination or election to public office under Section 1.07(41)(E) of the Texas Penal Code. Such an offense constitutes a third degree felony in the State of Texas.
Konzem declined to comment in response to questions about this situation. Wheeler and Reyer didn’t return telephone calls.
Update: Mayor Ritch Wheeler spoke with The Golden Hammer on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. Wheeler denies threatening Konzem’s job or any sort of retaliation. Wheeler admits that he did speak to Reyer about this issue on Friday, February 15, when Reyer called him to discuss the issue. Wheeler explained that, while the City of Shenandoah does have a nepotism policy, the policy would not require the termination of Steffani Konzem, in the event that her mother, Andrea Konzem, were to win election to the City Council. This newspaper appreciates Mayor Wheeler’s perspective and his reaching out to clarify facts which he perceives.