The Tarrant County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to recall Kathryn Wilemon from the county’s appraisal district board Tuesday, after the board approved her resignation as chair last week. 

Wilemon submitted a resignation letter Feb. 22 after Keller City Council voted to recall her the day before. The two warring actions have resulted in legal confusion over how the county’s taxing entities, including Tarrant County, should proceed; either move forward with the recall process, or let Wilemon’s resignation stand. 

Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare said commissioners voted to recall Wilemon in order to ensure the taxpaying entities could pick her successor. If the county had not moved forward with the recall process, Tarrant Appraisal District’s board members would have chosen who will replace Wilemon.

“I’m not a big fan of board members picking their own board members,” O’Hare said. 

Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes was the lone ‘no’ vote on the recall. Fickes told the Fort Worth Report that he voted Wilemon in for a two-year term, not a year and a half, and he didn’t see the point in dragging her through a recall process.

“I’ve known Kathryn for a long time,” he said. “I find her to be a person of high integrity. … I didn’t see any reason to go through the process of making somebody who’s spent 30 years in public service get slapped around with something called a recall.”

The reasons behind Wilemon’s recall

Kathryn Wilemon initially came under scrutiny by the Keller City Council after a series of missteps and controversies during her time as board chair. These included locking residents out of a board meeting; an appraisal employee sending complaints against a local tax consultant to the state without board approval; and several conflict of interest reports.

Over a dozen residents spoke in favor of Wilemon’s recall Tuesday, including Keller Mayor Armin Mizani and Colleyville council member George Dodson. A TAD board member, Rich DeOtte, also spoke in support of recalling Wilemon. DeOtte was the lone ‘no’ vote on accepting Wilemon’s resignation.

“Our constituents are watching,” Mizani said. “I hope and trust that Tarrant County can be the catalyst for the change that they expect.”

Several residents suggested the commissioners court fill Wilemon’s seat with the runner-up of the last election, Gary Losada. Then, Losada received the votes of 21 taxing entities, the most of any candidate in the 2019 election, but still lost. That’s because each taxing entity is given a certain number of votes based on their size, and the largest taxing body, the commissioners court, voted for Wilemon, securing her victory.

The eight taxing entities that voted for Wilemon — Mansfield ISD, city of Mansfield, city of Hurst, city of Keller, city of North Richland Hills, Tarrant County Commissioners Court, and Tarrant County College — are now eligible to vote for her recall. 

“She’s resigned and the recall process is really just beginning, because there’s only one city and now us who have voted (on the recall),” Fickes said. 

Under the Texas tax code, 50% of the votes cast for her must vote to recall her. Now that Keller and the commissioners court have voted to recall her, that threshold has been met.

“Tarrant County had the majority of the votes,” O’Hare said. “Now, is there a reason for it to go before any of the other taxing entities? I think the answer is probably no. But they may want to weigh in.”

After public comment, the commissioners held a closed-door meeting to talk with the county’s lawyers about the path forward under the Texas tax code.  O’Hare acknowledged there are still legal questions surrounding the path forward, but felt it was important for the county to take this step.

“Any time there is a question of law that is unanswered, the inclination is to defer to the will of the people,” he said. 

Now that commissioners have approved the recall, O’Hare said, it’s time for the county to open up the application process for a new board member. 

“It needs to be a transparent and open process,” he said. “That’s the reason why it wasn’t on the agenda today to pick a replacement.”

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, by following our guidelines.

Avatar photo

Emily WolfGovernment Accountability Reporter

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Round Rock, Texas, she spent several years at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in investigative...