Two-time City Councilman Tarris Woods intends to run for his former seat in the May election, but first he’ll have to deal with five unresolved code enforcement violations he said could jeopardize potential campaign endorsements.
“I can’t run with this cloud,” Woods said. “Who’s going to endorse me with five violations?”
The violations, which Woods denies, are for two properties, both of which are vacant lots, Woods said. The violation for the first property was for high weeds and grass. The violation for the second property was for two counts of trash, litter and debris on the property, high weeds and grass and vehicles parked on a lot, according to Galveston Municipal Court records.
The municipal court alleged in formal complaints against Woods that all five violations went unattended. The complaints said he “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly and unlawfully” failed to bring the property into compliance within 10 days of being notified of the violations.
Woods said he plans to contest the charges on the basis that he didn’t receive proper notification of the violations or court summons, he said. Several of the first notices were sent to Woods’ District 1 address listed in the Galveston Central Appraisal District but Woods said he lists his mailing address as a post office box.
Some of the complaints date as far back as November 2016, according to municipal court records. Failing to appear in court to address the violations also resulted in three warrants for Woods’ arrest. Woods said he wasn’t aware of the complaints until he appeared in court later this year after receiving a notification from his post office box address.
Those warrants were rescinded and Woods’ court date was reset for Feb. 28, according to documents Woods provided to The Daily News. Galveston Municipal Court officials declined to confirm whether warrants had been issued for Woods and what the warrants’ statuses are if they existed because the case was still open.
Woods also alleged that the complaints lodged against him are inconsistent — one notification claimed he violated the International Property Maintenance Code, documents show.
A Dec. 8 email from Debbie Stark, code enforcement assistant director of operations, stated that the charge — not cutting weeds and grass — had been revoked because it didn’t pertain to the International Property Maintenance Code.
The court summons for failing to appear in court for the weeds and grass violation on that property stated that Woods violated the city of Galveston Code Chapter 23, records show.
“I should have a right to run for city council unhindered by these false allegations,” Woods said.
Code enforcement officials declined to speak on the details of the case, but said that in general, violation notices are both mailed to and posted on the door of the property listed by the Central Appraisal District.
“Generally the owner, if they go by the property at all, they will see the notice at least on the outside,” City Marshal Michael Gray said.
Woods said the department didn’t follow adequate procedure. Section 23 of the city code states that a person should be notified “at his last known post office address, or by publication as many as two times within 10 consecutive days.” Woods said that means it should be published in the newspaper, but Gray said he wasn’t aware of any such rule.
Woods served on the city council from 2008 until 2010, and then 2014 to 2016. Several residents have accused him of not living full-time in District 1, which he has denied.
Woods said he’s denying all five of the charges and that he was denied due process. He asked to appeal with a jury trial and was denied, he said.
“If they’re doing this to a former city councilman, what do you think they’re doing to the average Joe Blow over there?” Woods said.