Openly gay Kemp Mayor Matt Ganssle, who won the office in the Cedar Creek Lake town two years ago, was defeated by a challenger in a 97 to 26 vote last week. Ganssle’s colleague on the council, openly gay Councilman Jerry Hazelip, did not run for re-election, so he was also replaced by a newcomer.
Gannsle and Hazelip reportedly were both fatigued by the resistance of oldtimers in the community toward any progressive ideas they put forth. Ganssle apparently did not put up any campaign signs or do much else in an attempt to get re-elected.
In Seven Points, openly gay Mayor Joe Dobbs, who was elected one year ago, may finally be able to preside over a functioning city council as newly elected council members take office. For the past year, several incumbent council members, including one who owns the Dairy Queens in both Seven Points and Kemp, refused to attend meetings or to resign after Dobbs’ election. That led to no quorums and no meetings.
Dobbs, who won office by a landslide despite his opponents’ gay-bashing tactics, has run city business mostly on his own for the past year, relying on the advice of the city attorney to keep the city afloat. The city had been nearly paralyzed already by an FBI investigation and felony indictments of a former municipal judge, the former mayor and a former councilman on corruption charges.
The Dairy Queens owner and another council member who boycotted meetings technically are still in office as their seats are not up for re-election until next year. It’s unclear whether they will continue to boycott meetings now, but Dobbs contends they are not eligible to participate in city business at this point. The first council meeting after the recent election could be the scene of a showdown between Dobbs and them. After Dobbs’ election, the first council meeting reportedly came close to erupting into a riot between the mayor’s political enemies and residents who voted for him.
Dobbs’ life partner, Michael Tayem, who became a member of the Seven Points Police Department after helping Dobbs get elected, is on administrative leave pending the results of a local county law enforcement investigation of a citizen’s complaint. A Henderson County grand jury reportedly has considered indicting Tayem on police corruption charges but not yet released the results, according to the Ellis County Observer, a web publication that has ran several critical stories about the mayor and his partner.
Dobbs and Tayem recently broke off their relationship, according to the publication, which has claimed it was inappropriate for the city to hire a police officer who had a romantic, live-in relationship with an elected city official. Dobbs, who is also a member of the volunteer fire department, has accused the publisher of the Ellis County Observer of doing the bidding of the mayor’s political enemies and of gay-bashing. The publication ran a cartoon video depicting Dobbs, dressed in a firefighter’s gear, and Tayem, dressed in a police uniform, dancing.
The closest Cedar Creek Lake’s media, which generally avoids any acknowledgment of the area’s large LGBT community, has come to addressing the relationship between Dobbs and Tayem was for one newspaper to refer to them as “roommates.”