This article has been updated.
Councilman Clayton Perry, who faces charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to stop and give information in connection with a hit-and-run crash, is still gauging support for a potential reelection bid in May.
The District 10 councilman surprised even some of his closet political allies when he returned to work at City Hall last week, roughly two months after his colleagues granted him a leave of absence to seek help.
Since then, he’s been texting old political allies and asking whether they would support him if he runs for a fourth term, according to sources who have seen the correspondence.
On Tuesday morning, Perry was given a court date of March 8 after a virtual hearing before County Court-at-Law Judge Yolanda Huff.
The previous night, Perry appeared at a meeting of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance, a coalition of neighborhood associations that includes longtime supporters, and received warm applause after apologizing to the group.
“I want to say I’m sorry, I made some bad judgments, and made a horrible mistake,” Perry said to the crowd with a shaking voice. “I look across this room, I think I know everybody in here personally, and I know I’ve let a lot of people down.”
Perry stopped short of directly addressing his reelection plans to the crowd or in an interview after the event at the Tool Yard.
“There’s more to be done and I’m here to do that,” Perry told the crowd.
“I can’t talk about the future here because it’s a city facility. … So please respect that,” he added, referring to the city’s ethics code, which prohibits campaigning in city-owned buildings. The Tool Yard is also known as the Northeast Service Center. “More news will be coming out in the near, near future on that. I know that’s weighing on everybody’s mind, particularly on me.”
An arrest affidavit detailing the night of the Nov. 6 incident stated that Perry consumed 14 alcoholic beverages in four hours at a local bar before he left. Body camera footage from the police officer who was led to Perry’s home by a witness to the accident showed the councilman laying on the ground in his backyard with a cut on his head, while his vehicle was still running in the driveway.
Since then, people close to Perry, including several former District 10 council members who were in attendance Monday night, have urged him to focus instead on his personal health, clearing the path for a new candidate.
Among those interested in the job is Marc Whyte, a 42-year-old commercial litigator who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Texas House District 121 in 2018, when then-House Speaker Joe Straus decided not to seek reelection.
Though Whyte initially indicated he wouldn’t run if Perry sought reelection, he said Monday night that he was now considering challenging the incumbent.
“I’m concerned about representation for District 10 for the next two years,” said Whyte, who serves on the board of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance and as District 10’s delegate to the city’s Zoning Commission. “We need a council person who is on committees to adequately represent the neighborhoods and be a voice for small business.”
Council committee assignments were reshuffled last year after an investigation found that Councilman Mario Bravo (D1) had berated Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7), and after Perry took a leave of absence. Though Perry returned to work last week, Mayor Ron Nirenberg has yet to assign him to any committees.
“Clayton is very well-liked, but I also heard many concerns about about him thinking about running again,” Whyte said.
Still, Perry received a warm reception at the Tool Yard on Monday night.
He was the last speaker of the night, and the crowd applauded his roughly 15-minute address. Afterward, a line formed to greet the councilman at the back of the room, and Perry was among the last to leave the event, wearing his signature fedora.
“I’m all for him running again,” said Roy Schauffele, a Valencia Hills resident who serves on the board of the Northeast Neighborhood Alliance. “I like someone who admits that they’ve made a mistake and fixes the thing. We don’t have enough of that with our elected officials.”