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Granite Shoals mayor addresses complaints against him

Granite Shoals Mayor Aaron Garcia

Granite Shoals Mayor Aaron Garcia, who is also a Marble Falls police sergeant, spoke out about accusations of alleged violations of the Granite Shoals City Charter during a council meeting Tuesday, April 11. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Granite Shoals Mayor Aaron Garcia tackled the complaints lodged against him for alleged violations of the city charter during the City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 11. Concerns were also raised about the legitimacy of the complaints, which were made by Suzanne Ort, the wife of Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort. Councilor Ort was arrested by Garcia in December 2021 for allegedly vandalizing a car in the Marble Falls H-E-B parking lot. Criminal charges are still pending and a status hearing is set for May 12.

“I believe the four complaints that were filed against Mayor Garcia by Councilor Ort’s wife, Suzanne, were for retaliation against him for arresting her husband for allegedly keying a woman’s car and to discredit him when he testifies against Councilor Ort at his trial,” said Shirley King during public comment. King is a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and a former council member. 

Suzanne Ort filed her complaints on March 16. A subcommittee tasked with investigating the complaints is still conducting interviews and expected to conclude its investigation by April 18.

Related to the same issue, the council also decided not to remove Ethics Review Commission Chairman Mark Morren after he violated a city ordinance by contacting Suzanne Ort outside of the context of an open meeting of the commission. Morren will be deliberating on the ethics complaint against Garcia, also filed by Ort, during a preliminary hearing of the commission at 6 p.m. April 12 at Granite Shoals City Hall.

Granite Shoals resident Suzanne Ort
Granite Shoals resident Suzanne Ort explains to the council that she was contacted by Ethics Review Commission Chairman Mark Morren outside of a commission hearing, which violated the rules set by the city’s ethics ordinance. Ort is responsible for filing four complaints against Mayor Aaron Garcia for alleged violations of the City Charter and an alleged violation of the city’s ethics ordinance. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey


An agenda item for Tuesday night’s meeting included an executive session to discuss the complaints filed against Garcia, but City Attorney Joshua Katz said the mayor could choose to have the discussion in open session if he wished. Garcia opted for the open session, taking the opportunity to lay out the complaints against him, then rebutting them.

Complaint 1 alleges a violation of sections 3.07(2) and 3.07(3) of the charter, relating to the firing of city building inspector Mike Light in the fall of 2022. Suzanne Ort accused Garcia of “firing” Light or telling City Manager Peggy Smith to fire him.

In his rebuttal, Garcia pointed out that there is no documentation to support this claim. He noted that any deliberation regarding Light’s employment and dismissal that occurred in executive sessions is privileged information and not made available to the public. It should also be noted that the mayor and City Council do not have the power to fire or hire anyone other than the city manager, city secretary, city attorney, or municipal judge, according to section 3.06 of the city charter, he said. 

Complaint 2 alleges a violation of sections 8.01 and 8.01(4) of the city charter, relating to the formation of a city manager search committee and an employee benefits committee in December 2022.

These were not official city committees, Garcia said, because they were never officially established by the council using methods dictated in the city charter. Therefore, no violation of the charter took place. He referred to them as “informal task forces.” He also provided excerpts from the Dec. 14, 2022, meeting minutes that included council and city staff’s input and involvement in creating the task forces.

Complaint 3 alleges a violation of section 14.04 of the charter, relating to Garcia’s handling of communications with the heading hunting firm Strategic Government Resources during the city manager search.

Garcia said he asked that City Secretary Dawn Wright be made aware of his approval of SGR’s proposed position profile for the city manager position and that City Council members, city staff, and members of the city manager search committee were all given opportunities to provide input in the process. In February, the council terminated the hiring process after voicing disapproval of how Garcia handled the matter.

Following Garcia’s comments, Councilor Steve Hougen, who is serving on the complaint investigation subcommittee, thanked him for his input.

“We’re not prepared to come to any conclusion until after we have conducted our interviews,” Hougen said. “Obviously, we’re going to have continued discussions.”

Also on the subcommittee are Place 2 Councilor Kevin Flack and Place 5 Councilor Michael Berg.


In the ethics complaint, Suzanne Ort accused Garcia of failing to fulfill a public information request. This same charge was brought against her husband, Phil Ort, for which he was censured in December 2022. 

On the advice of City Attorney Katz, Garcia did not publically address this complaint, which will be discussed at a meeting of the ethics commission at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12. 


During a later agenda item, Suzanne Ort spoke regarding Ethics Review Commission chair Mark Morren. She said he called her on March 29 regarding the ethics complaint she had filed against Garcia, telling her that it may not be worth it or make sense to pursue the complaint because Garcia would be leaving office shortly after Election Day on May 6. Garcia did not file for re-election. 

“I felt like he was pressuring me,” she said. “He did state that the committee would not take any action on this complaint due to the fact that the mayor was going to be leaving office soon. I reminded Mr. Morren that the committee does have an obligation to still investigate the complaint.”

Morren’s call violated Section 2-171 (b) (3) of the ethics ordinance, she said, which states that members of the commission cannot contact the complainant or the defendant outside of the commission’s open meetings.

This was confirmed by Katz.

The council decided against removing Morren as chair after hearing his apology.

“If I made a mistake, I am gratefully sorry for that,” he said. “I didn’t know the rules. I didn’t know what we could do or couldn’t do because it was never told to us.”

Morren explained that this was the first-ever ethics review commission in the city and that the members were all still learning the rules.

Like King, he went on to question the legitimacy of the ethics complaint.

“I started looking at who was the officer that arrested Mr. Ort,” he said. “(It was) Mr. Garcia. I thought at that time that something wasn’t right.”

Morren and the other members of the Ethics Review Commission, Jeff Kahl and Seth Smith, will hold a preliminary hearing on the complaint on Wednesday evening and determine whether to move forward to a final hearing.

2 thoughts on “Granite Shoals mayor addresses complaints against him

  1. It has been very interesting to watch and read about the “Days of Our Lives” going on in Granite Shoals. Do they understand that it will be harder to hire people to work for the city if they keep doing this. NO ONE is going to give up 40+ hours a week to be a part of this constant squabbling going on. If they will attack each other in a public forum, then there is not one single employee or volunteer safe from this! It is funny that they are trying to discredit Garcia when the proof of the alleged wrong doing on Councilmember Ort’s part, is on video! How are they going to discredit that? The moral is, start looking past the end of your own nose and do what is right by your community and city and not was saves your own a$$!! Make Granite Shoals better by being better for Granite Shoals!!

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