The Tarrant Regional Water District board voted Tuesday to appoint Charles “C.B.” Team to fill the unexpired term of longtime board member Jim Lane, who died in November.
This was the second vote the board took to approve the appointment. The board met in special session Jan. 12 and voted to approve the appointment but several issues, including technical issues with the audio recording of the meeting, resulted in a second vote.
Board members voted 3 to 1 to approve the appointment, with board member Mary Kelleher abstaining. She said her concern was an appearance of conflict of interest since Team, a candidate for the board in 2021, was aligned in campaign materials with board members Leah King and James Hill, who were re-elected to new four-year terms.
Kelleher acknowledged that Team is “more than qualified to serve.”
TRWD attorney Stephen Tatum said his research turned up no legal precedent to disqualify Team from serving.
Board member Marty Leonard said Team was the rightful appointee under the approach the board voted on in December to fill the vacant seat. The method involved selecting a replacement from among the four candidates who were defeated in the 2021 election because they had already been scrutinized by voters.
Members are elected to the TRWD board based on the vote totals in an at-large field. In the 2021 election, seven candidates ran and the top three were seated – King, Hill and Kelleher.
Team finished fourth behind Kelleher.
“He (Team) was next in line so it makes sense to me that he should be appointed,” Leonard said.
Leonard’s seat and Lane’s vacant seat will be up for election on May 6. Leonard has indicated she will not seek re-election.
Texas Water Code requires that board vacancies be filled within 60 days after the vacancy occurs, so the board had to fill the seat by Jan. 26.
Members of the Water Accountability Project, a watchdog group, had proposed that the seat be filled by someone who had no intention of running in the May election to avoid offering an advantage to an incumbent board member running for re-election. The group submitted a list of prospective appointees.
“The issues we raised were not about Team as an individual, they were about the ongoing appearances of inappropriateness that this board continues to perpetuate,” said former State Rep. Lon Burnam, a leader of the Water District Accountability Project. “In too many ways, it is the same old, same old way of doing business.”
Team was sworn into office after the vote. He is a principal with Ellis & Tinsley, a Fort Worth commercial real estate brokerage and investment firm.
“I humbly accept the appointment to the TRWD board of directors,” Team said in a statement. “This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly and I look forward to working with the dedicated staff and taxpayers to ensure future generations have superior access to critical water resources.”
Team announced today that he will seek to retain the seat in the May 6 election.
“Today I filed to run for the Tarrant Regional Water District Board of Directors in the upcoming election … I will work diligently to earn your vote in the coming months,” he said in a statement.
“Years ago when I set out to find the best way to leverage my skill set to give back to the community our family has been a part of for over 100 years, I found the TRWD,” the statement continued. “My family originally came to Fort Worth to live and work the land instilling commitment, hard work, and conservation as some of our core values.
“Water is the most critical resource our community has and I commit to expanding its access, supply, and recreational opportunities. I pledge to serve the taxpayers of the District with transparent and collaborative leadership and in an ethically and responsible way that makes sense today and for our future generations.”