Council nixes proposed ordinance to ease elections

The Pleasanton City Council voted against (4-3) placing a proposed ordinance on the next agenda, related to election procedures for greater assistance to voters and ease to city staff and election workers.

Voting in favor of placing the proposed ordinance on the next agenda were Mayor Clinton J. Powell and Councilmembers Kathy Coronado and Jeanne Israel. Voting against the item were Councilmembers Roger G. Garza, Abraham Saenz, Jimmy Magel and J.R. Gallegos.

Coronado said she felt there are several areas that need improvement, for the sake of the staff and the voters. One of the changes proposed was that anyone working at the election and polls be trained annually, as laws sometimes change. Also, that ballots are mailed with applications and return envelopes and there is a verification of signatures. Third, anyone on staff could help City Secretary Cindy Urrabazo with early voting. For example, Ms. Bandy who lives outside the city could help because she is a permanent employee. Fourth, that any type of change, whether it is annexation, re-districting, new developments, etc., that all the related information is passed over to the county. That way, residents can get updated information on their polling places. This would help with the confusion experienced in past elections, said Coronado.

Those actually working in elections, said Mayor Powell, are aware of how stressful it really is.

Coronado then made a motion to put the proposed ordinance on the next agenda, which was seconded by Israel.

Councilman Gallegos said he read the ordinance and he agreed with some of it. He said he had full confidence in Urrabazo and disagreed with the ordinance. Powell understood from the Texas Secretary of State that such an ordinance would make it easier and helps to clarify things.

Coronado said she had spoken with Urrabazo and she appreciated the proposed ordinance. She also spoke with the Atascosa County Elections Office.

Israel said that Urrabazo was hopeful she would be able to use any full-time employee to assist her with elections, whether they lived inside or outside the city.

“A lot of times she has a very shallow pool to draw from and she wasn’t sure whether or not she could do that,” said Israel. “That was something she shared and she hoped we would verify.”

Israel added that she understood council wanted to give Urrabazo some guidance and direction about the information that needed to be sent to the Atascosa County Elections Office to update everything.

“I believe that we are all interested in making sure that any map we have is going to be completely defined as far as districts are concerned, so every single election we can all be confident and whoever runs for office or votes… that we are voting in the right district,” said Israel.

Saenz said he completely agreed with Gallegos.

“I think that the city secretary did her best to try to do according to what she had to do and according to her past experience,” said Saenz.

A training conference that she will be attending will help her more, he added. Therefore, Saenz is not expecting any more controversial issues due to redistricting, etc.

After further discussion, City Attorney Bobby Maldonado was asked for his opinion.

“The better trained staff is, the better trained volunteers are, the better result you are going to have,” said Maldonado.

It reduces the stress level of candidates, the poll workers and city employees. Maldonado said he appreciated the dialogue starting now, because the filing deadline is two months away. This proposal would help Urrabazo to know council will provide her with resources to back her up.

The discussion ended with Magel stating that if there had not been a problem last year with re-districting, they would not be having this discussion.

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