Midlothian city councilman Art Pierard was lauded by the city he served as a guardian of budgeting and lower taxes for Midlothian’s residents during his two years on the City Council.
Pierard, a Midlothian resident who was elected two years ago to the City Council, was killed on Feb. 19 in an automobile accident on Interstate 35E in Waxahachie. He was 66.
At an emotional emergency meeting on Friday morning at Midlothian City Hall, the City Council called a special election to fill the remainder of the term of Pierard, who was up for re-election in May 2021. The special election will be held on the date of the Texas uniform municipal-school board election, which will be on Saturday, May 2.
“The last two days have been some of the darkest days that I can remember in Midlothian’s history,” Midlothian mayor pro tem Justin Coffman said before leading a prayer to start the meeting.
The meeting was called quickly because Saturday was the deadline to put the position on the ballot in time for the joint city-school May election, Mayor Richard Reno said in a prepared statement.
“Unfortunately the tragic loss of Councilmember Art Pierard has compelled the need for a special election,” Reno said. “Due to state law and Midlothian home rule charter requirements, the special election will be combined with the May 2 city council and school board election. This decision is based upon the best interests of our community and I believe it is consistent with Councilmember Pierard’s beliefs and principles.
“The city of Midlothian staff and Art’s fellow councilmembers extend their heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Pierard family,” the mayor concluded. “His loss is deeply felt.”
Coffman made the motion to call the special election.
“It’s a difficult thing to do, but I believe I’m in agreement that this is what Mr. Pierard would want, is for us to push forward,” Coffman said. “So it is with a heavy heart that I make the hardest motion I think I’ll ever have to make as a City Council member and ever will make as a City Council member.”
Councilman Wayne Sibley seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously in a voice vote.
According to police, Pierard was driving a Ford Mustang that had left the roadway and had gotten stuck in the grass near Exit 397 on I-35E at about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19. He had gotten out of the vehicle and was standing near it when an 18-wheeler left the roadway and struck him, resulting in his death. Two motorists who had stopped to assist Pierard witnessed the accident.
Pierard’s vehicle was facing south and the 18-wheeler was stuck in the mud near a northbound exit, police said.
Conditions were rainy at the time and the accident happened in a construction zone.
Pierard was elected to Place 6 on the City Council in 2018, winning a runoff against six-year incumbent Theodore “Ted” Miller, 537 votes to 237. Miller later won back a council seat in 2019.
At his swearing-in in 2018, Pierard stated he was excited for the opportunity to serve the community and was ready to hit the ground running.
“The challenges that we have...I am looking forward to being a part of that. It is not so much how we reinvent the wheel because it is already a great wheel. But how do we enhance it?” Pierard said. “My goal is to do what I can to help in any way possible.”
Pierard said Midlothian is in a prime location to continue to grow, but it is essential to make sure that growth is balanced with infrastructure keeping up with development.
In a statement issued Thursday morning, Mayor Reno passed along the tragic news to a community in shock and had high praise for one of the city’s stalwarts.
“Art was a valued member of the Midlothian City Council since 2018,” Reno said. “He was instrumental in passing the Senior Citizen’s Tax Freeze and reducing the City Tax Rate among many other contributions. He enjoyed visiting with residents and was passionate about Midlothian. He brought a unique and positive perspective to the City. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and he will be greatly missed by all that knew him.”
Pierard was previously sales and marketing vice president at Mouser Electronics Inc., an electronics distributor based in Mansfield. He is survived by his wife, Gwen, and one daughter.
Visitation was held Monday at Midlothian Funeral Home, and a Celebration of Life was held Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Midlothian.