GILMER -- City Councilwoman Brenda Jeffery can legally retain her council seat until the May 5 city election although she and other city officials have learned her residence is not in the district she represents.
City Manager Greg Hutson revealed at a council meeting Tuesday night that he had discovered Jeffery, who has represented District 4 since 2013, actually lives in council District 1.
On Wednesday, he speculated a clerical error by a past unknown Upshur County employee years ago resulted in Jeffery's home on Cypress Street being listed in the wrong district. It actually is directly across the street from District 4, he said.
Hutson told the council the situation was nobody's fault and had blindsided Jeffery.
Jeffery did not comment on the issue at Tuesday's meeting. But on Wednesday, she said she wondered why it had taken so long to uncover the mistake.
"I'm going to fulfill my obligations" by serving out the term, she added. Concerning the overall situation, Jeffery said she has never seen anything like it.
Jeffery also said she would not run for either the District 1 council seat nor an at-large council seat, both up for election in May.
At the council meeting, Hutson said he discovered the error when another candidate recently filed to run in the May election for Jeffery's council seat. He said the city consulted the Texas secretary of state's office, which advised that the councilwoman could retain her post until the election.
On Wednesday, he said the Texas Municipal League's legal division agreed Jeffery can stay on. None of her past votes will be negated, and she "still has the full rights and responsibilities of a city council person," said Hutson, who praised her performance during the one year he has been city manager.
He termed her "a victim of somebody's mistake a long time ago," but said whoever was responsible is no longer in the county government. Jeffery's home was listed in the wrong district when district lines were amended in 2011 and probably before that, Hutson said.
The Upshur County Tax Assessor-Collector's Office handled voter registration in 2011. The county has since formed an Election Administrator's Office to handle all election-related matters, and Hutson said that office has corrected records to show Jeffery lives in District 1.
The council discussed the issue in closed session Tuesday before Hutson made his announcement in open session.
At the meeting, Mayor Tim Marshall said nobody sought the error out, and Councilman Jarom Tefteller, who is an attorney, said Jeffery had done nothing wrong. Tefteller termed her a victim of "a stupid technical glitch."
"There was no malicious intent," Tefteller added.
District 1 Councilman William Hornsby said, "Somebody needs to talk to those county people."