Does our government operate the way residents want? If not, how can we change it?
These are the questions that voters will answer during the City charter election on May 7. Last year, a resident-led committee proposed fourteen amendments to the City’s charter. Now, the voters will get to decide whether they want those changes to take effect.
Our City’s charter is meant to be an expression of the will of the community, and the City of Victoria is encouraging all residents to vote in this election so that our charter will continue to reflect the will of the people.
To help residents learn more about what’s on the ballot, we’ve posted some information at www.victoriatx.gov/charter. There, residents can read details about each amendment, including what you’ll see on the ballot, a brief explanation of what it means and what will actually happen if it passes or if it doesn’t pass.
Some of the amendments deal with internal processes rather than residents’ day-to-day lives. For example, did you know that the City’s financial policy includes rules about signing paper checks? We don’t even use paper checks for most transactions nowadays. Proposition K would allow the council to adopt a payment authorization policy that matches current technological standards.
Other amendments would have a more visible impact on residents. For instance, Proposition C would establish term limits for our elected officials for the first time. If it passes, no mayor or council member will be able to serve for more than four consecutive terms in the same seat.
Some of the amendments are modeled after state law and would make our policies match those that are used in cities throughout Texas. For example, state law mandates that elected officials must disclose their conflicts of interest (think Rawley McCoy & Associates or Halepaska’s Bakery) and must not participate in discussions or voting that involve these conflicts. Proposition M would adopt those rules in place of our current policy, which completely bans the City from dealing with companies that are connected to elected officials.
There’s even an amendment that outlines what to do if the City loses so many council members at once that our government can no longer function. Some Texas cities in recent years have lost multiple council members at the same time (because of deaths or recall elections, for example), and those cities have learned the hard way that it’s difficult to fill vacancies when you don’t have enough officials to legally call an election. Proposition N would solve this by giving us a way to appoint temporary officials for the sole purpose of calling an election.
If you’d like to have a say in these and other issues, please take some time to look at the voter guide at www.victoriatx.gov/charter so you can learn more about all 14 amendments. Then, on May 7, head to a polling location and cast your votes. (This is the same day as the City Council election, and they’ll be on the same ballot).
To find a polling location or register to vote, contact the Victoria County Election Administration Office at 361-576-0124 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vctx.org.
Thomas Gwosdz is the city attorney for the City of Victoria.