Board rejects November trustee election
Published: Friday, February 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 10:02
The Alamo Colleges board of trustees unanimously rejected a resolution to move its election date from May to November of even numbered years at its Jan. 24 meeting in Killen Center.
The board considered the measure because of changes in Texas election law resulting from the enactment of Senate Bill 100 during the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature.
The bill states, "A county elections administrator is not required to enter into a contract to furnish election services" for an election on the second Saturday in May in an even-numbered year.
In his presentation to the board, attorney David Méndez of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP said Jacquelyn F. Callanen, Bexar County elections administrator, said the Bexar County elections department would facilitate this year's election despite the change in the law.
Méndez said the law does not require trustees to move the election date. He said the Legislature passed the law because they were concerned May elections could conflict with primary elections.
Méndez said scheduling a potential runoff election in a trustee race would not be affected if the Texas primary elections take place after the trustee election in May.
He said May elections typically draw 5 percent of registered voters and that moving the election to November would see a greater turnout.
In May 2010, 4.84 percent or 24,767 voters cast ballots of 511,508 registered voters.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate, District 6 trustee Gene Sprague and District 7 trustee Blakely Fernandez will be up for re-election on May 12.
However, Méndez said that because the elections department would have to deploy more equipment to accommodate more voters, holding an election in November would cost more.
He said holding the trustee elections in November during a presidential election year would mean the trustee race would be placed further down the ballot.
"The voter's attention may have been tested," he said.
Sprague said even if the trustee race was at the top of the ballot, voters would not put as much thought into voting for someone in that race because they are focused on the presidential race.
"I think it'd be an extraordinarily bad idea to move it to November," he said.
District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said he believes voters are accustomed to voting for school boards in May and federal elections in November. "It occurs to me that in November, the voters have such an overload on politics that it's very difficult for them to concentrate on races for school boards and things of that nature," he said.
Rindfuss said even though fewer voters turn out in May, those voters are more informed.
"I would rather have a conscientious voter in a smaller number than a high number that don't know what they're doing and just pulling the lever to get out of the booth," he said.
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete asked if the election date would stay the same if the board took no action, and Méndez said yes.
However, Chancellor Bruce Leslie asked the board to vote for the record.
Sprague motioned to reject the minute order, Zárate seconded it and the board passed it 8-0.
District 7 trustee Blakely Fernandez was absent. She said via text message Thursday that she was unable to attend after the monthly meetings were moved to the third and fourth Tuesdays in January.