Mayor Stephen Terrell presided over his final Allen City Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 24, ending nearly 30 years of elected service to Allen citizens.
Terrell was first elected to Allen City Council in 1991. In 1997 he began his 23-year tenure as Allen’s mayor, helping it grow from a small town of 34,000 to a vibrant city of more than 100,000 residents.
“When I was first elected, we didn’t have but one red light in Allen; now we have over 65!” Said Terrell. “I didn’t build Allen, Texas. The people built Allen, Texas. You just told me what you wanted and I helped make it happen.”
Terrell’s latest term was due to end in May. However, he was required to vacate his seat in December after announcing his candidacy for Collin County Commissioner. The Texas constitution allowed him to hold over in his role for up to 120 days until a replacement was appointed. That holdover period was due to end on April 7.
“I could not have done it without the fine councils who have served with me,” said Terrell. “I have truly enjoyed every bit of it.”
Allen City Council unanimously appointed Debbie Stout to fill the vacancy created by Mayor Terrell’s departure. Stout served on Allen City Council from 2001-2012 and as Mayor Pro Tem from 2007-2012. In 2018, councilmembers appointed her to temporarily fill the vacancy in Place No. 3.
“I’m honored at the trust these [councilmembers] have put in appointing me to this spot. It’s very humbling,” said Mayor Stout. “Allen has been my home for most of my life now. I have nothing but the best intent for everything we can do to make it better and get through this crisis [of COVID-19]. We will get through it.”
Mayor Stout works for Allen Community Outreach and has been involved with numerous Allen organizations, including Allen Kiwanis Club, Allen Public Safety Recovery Fund, Allen Rotary Club and Allen Arts Alliance. She also served on the board of trustees for Texas Health Allen and was a board member for both the Allen Economic Development Corporation and Allen Community Development Corporation.
Under normal circumstances, the appointment of Mayor Stout would have lasted less than six weeks until the next City election on May 2. However, councilmembers voted to postpone the election due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
“The Governor issued a proclamation providing and recommending that cities, school districts and other entities holding a May 2 election move to a November 3 General Election,” explained City Secretary Shelley George. “The proclamation provided no other remedies, other than to use a uniform election date of either May 2 or November 3.”
Some councilmembers questioned the financial toll of continuing with a City election if the city was unable to share costs with other entities. Allen Independent School District board members had previously voted to move the school district election to November 3.
“We’re in kind of uncharted territory as far as what is going on right now,” said City Attorney Pete Smith. “The issue is locations for voting. Will they be available? Could they be shut down? Can we get election clerks to work the election?”
Other councilmembers expressed concerns about using shared equipment such as voting cards and touch screens. They also worried that COVID-19 might suppress voter turnout.
Allen City Council also appointed members to two local boards. Former Allen Mayor Joe Farmer was reappointed to the North Texas Municipal Water District Board for a two-year term effective June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2022. Mayor Pro Tem Gary Caplinger will serve on the North Central Texas 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District Board, filling the vacancy left by departing Mayor Stephen Terrell.