Bernice Martinez said she was harassed by a member of the Dublin City Council Friday while she was at work.
After morning coffee at Bigg's Convenience Store, Martinez said councilman Tommy Sperry approached her to ask questions about an article in the Empire-Tribune and other media exposure regarding her home's sewage problems.
Martinez said Sperry finished his coffee and approached the cashier's desk after other customers left.
"What's up with this article in the paper?" he reportedly said, pointing to the Friday edition of the E-T.
She claims he continued questioning her about a story featured on WFAA Channel 8.
"He was really mean to me, it was so embarrassing," Martinez said.
An eyewitness said Sperry was pointing a finger at both Martinez and the newspaper "quite aggressively" during the conversation, but did not hear the exchange.
Martinez said Sperry told her that the city is not to blame for the problem, and blamed her and Habitat for Humanity, the organization that built the house. She also claims he cursed at her and was extremely rude.
Martinez said the encounter left her stunned.
"I've tried keeping my composure through all of this, but it's getting tougher and tougher," Martinez said.
When contacted for comment, Sperry denied harassing one of Dublin's citizens.
"I've not harassed her at all," Sperry said. "I asked her a simple question and went about my business. "
The incident comes two weeks after the Dublin City Council unanimously adopted a code of conduct on how council members should interact in and outside of council meetings. The code explains principles of intergrity and respect among others and advises council members to avoid situations where they can be misrepesented as speaking for city council.
City Manager Jerry Guillory said Monday that it is the responsibility of the council to represent the interest of their constituents and to help address problems. He said it is acceptable for a councilman to ask residents questions about problems, but said harassing citizens is not.
"Emotions sometimes get so involved in issues like this that things can be misperceived," Guillory said. "As always, (Sperry) has a different version of how he represented himself."
Guillory advised that citizens with complaints regarding city council members can be filed with the mayor, city manager or another council member. Then, the city council can consider imposing sanctions or censoring council members.
The next city council meeting is 7 p.m. Nov. 8 in the City Council Chambers.