Among a dozen confused, concerned Gene Autry citizens asked by town trustees to appear for a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening in the Gene Autry Senior Citizen Center was 20-year resident Lonnetta Short.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” Short said.
No meeting was conducted. Vice Mayor Thressa Walker appeared to announce her resignation to Rob Gilio, who stepped down from his position as town trustee after not being recognized by the Oklahoma Municipal League.
Gene Autry Mayor Kyle Lawson, the only remaining trustee for Gene Autry, was not present for the scheduled meeting that included an agenda written by Gilio calling for Lawson’s resignation.
“All I have now is a civic duty that I have to this town I have lived in for 46 years,” Gilio said.
No quorum was formed for a regular meeting in Gene Autry, which will likely seek guidance from the Carter County Election Board for an eventual special election to replenish its town council, according to Lawson.
Disagreements began in Gene Autry when Lawson was approved for a monthly salary of $400 by town trustees on Sept. 4, the day the most recent regularly scheduled meeting occurred. Trustees say they were blindsided by Lawson when no preceding mayor on record has ever taken a personal salary.
According to Gilio, It was determined upon further review by the OML, town clerks and other town officials that no stipulation for a mayoral monthly salary was included in the fiscal budget for the year, and Lawson was ordered to return the money.
Lawson told The Ardmoreite Tuesday evening that he has already returned the money, yet, Gilio disputes the claim, and is still calling for Lawson’s resignation.
Gilio was appointed by Lawson after Lawson was elected in a special election on May 7, 2015, Gilio now claims that after communicating with the OML, Gene Autry unlawfully held the election for mayor when voters instead should have elected three council members who would then appoint a mayor.
Short does not share the same negative views Gilio has of Lawson. She said Lawson has only done good for her, in fact, attributing the discovery of cowboy trophies her grandpa won that were stolen from the local museum to Lawson.
“I’ve never had any trouble with him. He’s been good to me because of the museum stuff that was going on,” Short said. “There was a person that stole my grandpa’s all-around cowboy trophies, and he was the one who got it back.”
Lawson told The Ardmoreite Tuesday evening he believes Gilio is attempting to avoid potential liability for being the trustee who signed off on Lawson’s $400 check.
“He is fostering an unfit working environment. The issue isn’t the town, it’s Robert Gilio,” Lawson said.
Lawson also attributed the resignation of the city’s former town clerk to Gilio, who requested three-year’s worth of documents pertinent to his investigation of mayoral salaries a month ago. An expedient turnaround for such a request is unreasonable, Lawson said, accusing Gilio of being unaware of certain municipal processes.
Gilio and some fellow Gene Autry citizens, nevertheless, believe town officials do not want to involve themselves in the dispute.
According to  Gilio, the Oklahoma Municipal League handbook stipulates that if an elected official is absent for half of the regularly scheduled meetings within a four-month period, they are relieved of their position, which Gilio said applies to Lawson’s attendance.
Despite there being no meeting Tuesday or Oct. 5 — when the last meeting was scheduled — Gilio said because Lawson did not cancel those planned meeting he was absent for, he ought to resign from his position.
Lawson said he will communicate with the OML and Carter County election board on steps to restore a working municipality to Gene Autry, which has not conducted an official meeting in two months.
“You could call it anarchy, if you like,” Gilio said. “But I call it an attempt to avoid justice.”