Following a late-night closed session that lasted roughly three hours on March 21, the Bandera City Council finally reconvened in open session and promptly approved the appointment of Nancy De Foster as new City Marshal.
De Foster told the Bulletin she is currently waiting for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to notify her of a test date to obtain Master Peace Officer status, which requires 20 or more years of service.
De Foster, a Bandera resident since 2019, served in law enforcement for 26 years with the Honolulu Police Department. Her experience includes service as a patrol officer, training academy instructor, sergeant for the Domestic Violence & Child Abuse Unit, acting lieutenant over new programs creation and implementation and personal aide to the Chief of Police. As a supervising field training officer, De Foster managed teams of up to 15 officers at a time on two shifts a day.
“I am so honored and humbled to have been chosen for this position. I am so grateful to have been provided this opportunity to truly give back to the community we all love," said De Foster, who is also a volunteer with Triple H Equitherapy and the Lakehills Cajun festival.
The intent for the council’s closed session, which took place directly after their regular business, was twofold: to perform the six-month review of City Administrator William Cox and to discuss the selection and appointment of a full-time city marshal. No subsequent action following Cox's evaluation was required, as stated by Mayor Rebeca Gibson.
Upon the council’s return to open session to an awaiting public, Councilman Jeff Flowers motioned to appoint Nancy De Foster and authorize the city to enter into negotiations for the position of City Marshal; Councilwoman Christine Morse seconded the motion.
After a vote was taken, Councilman Tony Battle and Councilman Jerry Russe joined Flowers and Morse to approve. Councilwoman Lynn Palmer did not vote in favor to approve the appointment and declined to offer a statement to the Bulletin.
Morse then motioned to restructure the job description of current Code Enforcement Officer and current interim Bandera City Marshal, Earl Heidelberg, to Assistant City Marshal with adjusted compensation.
Russe seconded that motion, and the vote was 4-1 with Palmer dissenting.
The Bulletin reached out to Heidelberg for comment but did not receive a response.
The appointment of De Foster follows a November 2022 decision to remove former City Marshal, Will Dietrich, for what council said was neglect of responsibilities and general lack of confidence to fulfill the essential job functions of the office.
No further details were made public during Tuesday's meeting regarding the hiring of De Foster, but Nicole Flowers, wife of councilman Flowers, commented the following in a Facebook thread in response to commenter Henry Heidelberg:
"In a Chief/City marshal position that Nancy would be in, it's administrative and does not require an immediate license, and would not inhibit her from performing the duties of her position. It's the officers below that post that are required to have a license. With her almost 30years of experience, most of her certifications will carry over and/or are 'grandfathered' in state to state. She would be required to take a 120hr course from the state of Texas for this license and Nancy herself has made public that she's already completed these hours on her own time and dime. hse has only been waiting to take the test based on whether or not she would be offered this position ...This is all about putting Bandera and it's community first. [sic]"
Asked by another commenter, Elizbaeth Hemken Cunningham, to speak to De Foster's qualifications, Nicole Flowers wrote the following: "Besides over 30 years of policing experience, she has real life experience in the role of a Police Chief, she's created and facilitated specialized new departments and services within her previous posts as assistant Police Chief with her previous community and city's needs at the forefront of those departments. To name just a few. I understand the hurt that can be happening, but Earl [Heidelberg] truly is a kind heart and good person but being those things doesn't mean 'you're right or qualified' for a position like this. I fully believe that if that was the case then Earl would absolutely have the job."
In response to a comment from Sandra Trim Heidelberg, Nicole Flowers wrote she'd "love to know" if the facts she'd found were incorrect.
"Besides the fact that Earl has been here as a peace officer, code enforcer, and all around good guy.... What are his qualifications or role as Bandera's Chief Marshal [thinking emoji]."
Bandera City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m. at Bandera City Hall, 511 Main Street, 78003.