ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — On July 9, the Round Rock City Council voted to hold the general and special elections originally scheduled for May 2020 on May 1, 2021.
Council Members voted 6-1 on the new date, with Council Member Hilda Montgomery being the one member to vote no.
Several Round Rock community members have said this is a slippery slope to allow elected officials to lengthen their terms.
“From top-down this is something I’m very concerned with,” said Adam Simms. “We understand there are inherent risks to keeping our society running. I do have factual belief that the personal protective equipment that we have asked to wear is effective enough to decide on the politicians who are deciding on property taxes next year.”
Mayor Craig Morgan says this postponement wasn’t about COVID-19.
“There has been an ordinance in place for decades that our elections have always been held in May,” said Mayor Craig Morgan. “It’s consistent with what we have done for years. This shouldn’t be a sock to anybody.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation in March allowing the postponement of the May 2 local elections due to concerns of spreading COVID-19 and removing the duty of County Elections Departments to contract with municipalities to hold May elections.
The Williamson County Elections Department notified the City that County officials would not be administering elections in May.
Round Rock and several other cities wrote a joint letter to the Governor’s Office requesting a proclamation that would allow Round Rock and other public entities to conduct elections in August.
The city didn’t hear back from the Governor in time, so it decided to go with what’s written in its charter.
“People ask, ‘Well what happens if someone tries to sue you?’ I think we win if someone tries to sue us. If it was the candidate who ran in November, I think they could sue us saying the City of Round Rock didn’t follow the city charter and ordinance law,” said Morgan.
The ballot includes three City Council seats for Mayor, Place 1 and Place 4 and seven proposed amendments to the City Charter.
Morgan and Council members Will Peckham and Tammy Young will continue to serve in those positions until they are filled in May 2021. Those elected will serve the remaining two years of the three-year terms. Place 3 and 5 Council seats will also be on the May 2021 ballot as scheduled.
For the postponed 2020 election, the City of Round Rock is preserving all candidate filings and ballot order actions that have already been taken. The postponement does not have the effect of reopening candidate filings.
Simms says it made sense to go ahead with the November election.
“More people turn out for a national vote,” said Simms. “If you’re there voting, then you’re going to have a higher turnout for the city council inherently.”