Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
Tom Bean City Council member Ben Vincent resigned from the council late last week. The resignation follows Vincent’s arrest in July for intoxicated assault with a vehicle following a two-vehicle wreck in Tom Bean.
Prior to the July arrest, police body camera video was released that appeared to show Vincent being pulled over in Whitewright over suspicions that he might be driving while intoxicated. During the stop, Vincent admitted to consuming a bottle of wine, but he was not charged with DWI and was allowed to call for a ride home.
“It has been my pleasure to serve the citizens of Tom Bean as a Council member for over 10 years,” Vincent said in his resignation letter, which was dated Aug. 17. “I am very proud of the work we have accomplished during my tenure. However, at this time, I have health issues to deal with, and I think it is in the best interests of myself and the City for me to step down in my capacity now and focus on my health.”
The letter was released to media by the office of Vincent’s attorney, Bob Jarvis, Monday morning.
“I believe in the city and the current leadership of our Council to make the right decisions for our city moving forward,” Vincent wrote. “I give my best regards to the city of Tom Bean, its leaders and its citizens and wish them all continued growth and prosperity.”
In a phone interview, Jarvis said he wasn’t certain what his client’s long term plans are, but in the short term Vincent planned to focus on his wellness.
“At this point, he is just focusing on himself,” Jarvis said. “While the city of Tom Bean and the city council are important to him, they are not as important as his health.”
The letter of resignation brings the city of Tom Bean one step closer to having resolution and closure from recent events. However, the city council must still accept the resignation during a meeting, Tom Bean Mayor Sherry Howard said.
“We can move forward after this,” she said. “Of course, we were moving forward before this, but now we can move past this.”
The next opportunity for that will come Monday when the city holds a budget workshop. Howard said she plans to have the item added to the agenda.
Howard said following the acceptance of the resignation letter, the council will decide on how to proceed. The options before the council include appointing someone to fill Vincent’s seat and complete his term, which started in May, she said, or leave the seat vacant until the next election.
Howard said she hopes to have someone appointed to the seat as that would fill the council and bring it to five active members and her own seat. With five members, the council would be less likely to return a tie vote, which would require Howard to act as a tie-breaker.
Additionally, Howard said by having five members, the council would be less likely to not have enough members present to form a quorum for a meeting.