Surfside residents at odds with 72-year-old grandmother turned m - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Surfside residents at odds with 72-year-old grandmother turned mayor

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Here's a question you never expect to hear someone ask at a city council meeting.

"Who is my mayor?" a woman in the packed crowd shouts.

"That's a good question," someone from the council table shouts back.

It's a good question because the woman asking is not the only Surfside Beach resident wondering the same thing.

Who is the mayor of Surfside?

Seems to be a question the mayor pro-tem doesn't want to answer in front of everyone.

"This meeting's adjourned," he said. "I'll be glad to talk to you after the meeting."

"It was overwhelming to me to see what really serious condition the city was in," appointed mayor Glenda McGonigle said.

Even though she's resigned twice the 72-year-old grandmother is still technically the mayor of Surfside Beach, much to her chagrin.

"I asked them to appoint someone, anyone and get me out of the situation I'm in," McGonigle said.

To say McGonigle is an unpopular mayor would be well an understatement.

"A control freak run amuck," said resident Donna Robinson.

"We just want her gone," resident Elizabeth Brown said.

"I've never seen anything like this before," 31-year Surfside resident Chris Tarter said. "It's crazy it really is."

And city council meetings with McGonigle as mayor have turned into raucous free for alls with outspoken residents saying they are threatened with arrest.

"It was really kind of odd and creepy," Brown said.

"They've created an atmosphere that is more a combination of Swamp People and Peyton Place on steroids," resident Sue Gray said.

McGonigle takes all the name calling in stride.

"I'm not really angry I feel sorry for the people on the island because they don't get it," McGonigle said.

McGonigle was appointed mayor after the April death of elected mayor James Bedward.

"From that day on my life became a living hell," said McGonigle.

After taking office residents say McGonigle fired three city employees and hired a consultant.

Something they say she did without the needed approval of city council.

"She can't write a check for more than 5 thousand dollars but she does it anytime she wants," city councilman Bob Petty said. "She can't hire people without city council approval she goes ahead and does it."

Some residents worry that Surfside will get sued by some of the city employees McGonigle fired.

"The potential risk for the village right now is extremely high," resident Janna William's said.

"These people were incompetent and I went to city council time and time again," McGonigle said.

Residents also blame McGonigle for the state's decision to put the island's beach permit on hold.

"We lost our beach permit we can't do anything on the beach anymore including collect any money on the beach," Brown said. "That's the biggest chunk of Surfside Beach's budget and now that's out the window."

"I would never do anything to hurt the beach," McGonigle said. "But all the sand and all the problems were created long before I came here."

"Apparently she's quit twice and yea she just keeps coming back," Tarter said. "I don't know why but yea she does."

The first resignation only lasted a couple of days.

But on August 13th McGonigle says she thought she resigned for good.

"It's like everyday something new popped in and I'm going holy crap," said McGonigle.

But since the city council didn't immediately name a replacement after she resigned it looks like McGonigle could be the mayor until a special election is held on November the 5th.

While no one can force her to go to city hall McGonigle said she was told she's still responsible and accountable for what happens on the island.

"And I have no authority How can that work/" McGonigle wondered.

In our interview with the reluctant mayor she dropped a bombshell.

She showed us this August 6th letter from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that states Surfside's water system tested positive for coliform bacteria.

She also said that state agency and the E.P.A. have launched criminal investigations.

"There's a criminal investigation into alot of activity down here they haven't shared with me all the criminal activity that has been going on," McGonigle said. 'I know the septic tanks being put in without a permit is a big issue with the state of Texas."

What action if any follows the criminal investigation remains to be seen.

At least there's one thing both sides seem to agree on.

The 72-year-old grandmother's time as mayor can't come to an end soon enough.


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