Midlothian Council Approves ad hoc Committee For Sanctuary City Recommendation

Clark Wickliffe swearing in at city council
Photo credit Clark Wickliffe

Clark Wickliffe Sworn In, City Council Place 4

MIDLOTHIAN – One of the first orders of business on the Midlothian City Council agenda Tuesday night was the swearing in of Place 4 City Council member and incumbent Clark Wickliffe who ran unopposed in the election earlier this month.

Ted Miller’s Place 3 seat will see a runoff election on June 18. Miller will not be in the runoff election as he did not receive the most votes of the three candidates on the ballot. Both challengers Anna Hammonds and Ed Gardner are vying to take the seat Miller will be vacating.

After a lengthy meeting with a number of Public Hearings, the last order of business on the agenda was the return of an item from the April 26, 2022 council meeting. This item addressed Midlothian becoming a sanctuary city for the unborn thereby outlawing abortion in the city.

The item had been placed on the agenda in April at the request of Place 5 councilmember Justin Coffman.

Drawing controversy in April, some residents expressed concern that the item seemed like government overreach. They asked “when is it right for a City Council to determine an ordinance that has to do with abortion?”

Others who spoke that evening in April were for the idea of a Sanctuary City ordinance.

Council Approves Ad Hoc Committee 5-2

Fast forward to next steps from that April meeting and the agenda item this week was to consider and act upon a resolution establishing an advisory ad hoc committee.  This committee will review and revise as needed the proposed ordinance declaring Midlothian a Sanctuary City.

Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno reminded that at the April 26 council meeting it was determined the mayor would appoint an advisory committee for the purpose of reviewing the proposed ordinance.

“The City Council charges the advisory ad hoc committee with review of the ordinance admitted to the City Council on April 26, 2022 and to make a recommendation to the city council to approve the ordinance, approve an amended ordinance or provide other alternatives to the city council,” Reno said.

There were 10 members named to the committee including both Reno and Coffman as well as eight additional members. When we receive the member names from the City Secretary we will update article.

The review by the committee is to be complete by July 26, 2022 and a presentation made to Council with recommendations.

There was no indication how the eight additional members were chosen, but Reno stated there were roughly 20 private citizens who came forward to volunteer to sit on the committee.

Will What Happens In The Supreme Court Impact The Ordinance?

“The date of July 26 is to allow time to put the desired action on the November ballot for a referendum to the public, Reno added. “I will comment that there is news at the National level with some anticipation of something happening in June or July. We are going to continue as is with the realization that we may have to modify our direction. For now, we are going to proceed with the request made to council.”

Wickliffe wondered if the committee was a waste of time if state laws come back on the books if the Supreme Court overrules Roe V. Wade.

While Reno said he was not answering a lawyer question, he added “that is supposition of what might happen so if that does happen we will modify our approach, but if it does not happen we have started the process and that is my motivation.”

Wickliffe said he was not attacking anyone, but if this was going to happen “there were a whole lot of other things council could do.” He said he felt time and energy was being wasted if Roe V. Wade is overturned.

Reno pointed out it is not the council overall on the ad hoc committee, but Coffman and himself along with eight private citizens who stepped forward. From there the committee will offer its recommendation “providing this committee will say what is in the best interest of the community in regard to this topic.”

Council passed the moving forward with the ad hoc committee in a 5-2 vote with Wickliffe and Miller voting against.

Place 6 City Council member Hud Hartson said of his decision to vote for the committee and to move the process further as the Mayor suggested “As a pro-life Christian, I support Midlothian becoming a sanctuary city for the unborn. I will do everything in my capacity to get the ordinance we are working on passed.”