In an off-year for national elections, the November 2019 ballot is not very lengthy. But a smattering of municipal elections across Ellis County and 10 proposed state constitutional amendments highlight the Nov. 5 slate.
Locally, Waxahachie is holding a referendum to change how City Council members are seated. Waxahachie’s proposition would amend Section 2.01(c) of the city charter, regarding City Council elections and terms, to change the method of election of council members from at-large seats to specific seats. The council voted in August to place the question on the November ballot.
“It’s not a huge change,” Waxahachie city manager Michael Scott said. “It’s very similar to what the school district is doing now. We looked into doing the same thing here, and got support from the council for it.”
Monday is the last day for voters in Texas to register in time to be eligible for the upcoming election.
At present, the city’s five council members are elected at-large in staggered two-year terms. Depending on whose terms are up, either the top two or top three vote-getters on the ballot are elected to the council. Each May, following that month’s elections, the council appoints the mayor and mayor pro tem from among the five members.
However, if voters OK the proposition, candidates would instead have to file to run for a specific seat starting with next May’s city election. Places 1, 2 and 3 would be filled in 2020, with Places 4 and 5 being filled in 2021. Each of the five places would be citywide elections.
Scott said the old method served Waxahachie well for years as a small-town approach, but with the city rapidly approaching 40,000 in population, it was time for a new method of electing council members.
“It puts more strategy into how elections are handled,” Scott said. “Rather than being a top vote-getter, you can target a seat. If you don’t like how a council member is voting, you can put up a candidate for their seat.”
Other races to be decided across Ellis County include:
• City of Bardwell, special election to fill vacant positions for the purpose of electing a mayor and two at-large council members that are unexpired terms. Shannon Spurgeon and Larry G. Gilbert are the candidates for mayor; and Dionne Sauers, Dolores Luksa and Maggie Walker are the three candidates vying for two vacant council seats.
• City of Ennis, special election voting to adopt or reject one proposed proposition. Voters will decide whether the city should continue its Crime Control and Prevention District for another 20 years, and at the same time whether the sales tax used to fund the district should also be extended for 20 years.
• City of Glenn Heights, general election for the purpose of electing mayor and council member Places 2, 4 & 6. Four candidates — Tony Bradley, Harry A. Garrett, Leon Tate and Robert Lee Rodriguez — are on the ballot in the mayor’s race, and Travis Bruton and Emma Ipaye are running for the Place 2 seat on the council. Ron Adams (Place 4) and Machanta E. Newson (Place 6) are unopposed.
• City of Ovilla, special bond election voting to adopt or reject five proposed propositions. Proposition A is a referendum to approve or reject a $2.94 million bond issue for new city hall facilities, with a related $130,000 bond issue (Proposition B) to renovate the existing city hall into a community center if Proposition A passes. Similarly, Proposition C is a $2.22 million bond issue for public safety facilities, with a related Proposition D to convert the existing public safety facilities for public works department use through a $130,000 bond issue if Proposition C passes. Finally, Proposition E is a $680,000 issuance for park, recreation and open space improvements. All propositions also authorize the levying of an ad valorem tax on all taxable property within the city to pay the bonds.
An election to select two at-large members of the Buena Vista-Bethel Special Utility District board of directors was canceled in September after the two candidates, Alan Cleaver and Don Walker, received no opposition.
Early voting begins Oct. 21 in Ellis County and ends Nov. 1 in the lead-up to the actual Election Day polling on Nov. 5.