Elections 2022IssuesLocal NewsOdessa Votes to Become Latest ‘Sanctuary for the Unborn’ After New Council Members Take Office

Two new members on the Odessa City Council voted to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance almost immediately after taking the oaths of office.
November 23, 2022
The City of Odessa joined the ranks of over 40 municipalities across the state of Texas to pass a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” ordinance to outlaw abortion on Tuesday, immediately after new council members were sworn into office to replace key incumbents who opposed the measure in the past.

Newly elected members include District 5 Councilman Chris Hanie and District 4 Councilman Greg Connell, who voted “aye” along with incumbent councilmembers Denise Swanner (At-Large), Mark Matta (Dist. 1), and Mayor Javier Joven. District 3 Councilman Gilbert Vasquez, also sworn in during the meeting, abstained on the ordinance. 

Incumbent District 2 Councilman Steve Thompson was the lone “no” vote. Thompson has opposed previous efforts to pass an ordinance.

Before taking up public discussion on the issue, Mayor Joven addressed a crowded council chamber, imploring those with differing views on the agenda item to approach the issue with civility, saying, “We live in a constitutional republic, and we should celebrate the ability to come here and share our views in a civil way.”

One of those who addressed the council regarding the ordinance was Mark Lee Dickson, who leads the “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” movement to pass pro-life ordinances in cities.

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Dickson has worked closely with Mayor Joven and the Ector County Republican Party to get an ordinance passed, but the previous effort was defeated.

After two candidates backed by the Ector County GOP, Hanie and Connell, replaced now-former Councilmembers Mari Willis and Tom Sprawls in the November election, the composition of the council shifted in favor of the ordinance, which passed 5-1.  

That vote Tuesday was the first of two needed to finally pass the ordinance, with the second vote for final passage planned for a December 13 city council meeting.

If that vote succeeds, Odessa will be the second such city in Ector County after Goldsmith passed its ordinance in February 2021.


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.