No conflict, no contest: Charles withdraws
BY PHIL REYNOLDS SOUTH JETTY REPORTER
|Citing her lack of disagreement with erstwhile challenger Keith Donley, incumbent City Council member Beverly Charles abruptly withdrew from the May 12 city council race on Wednesday, March 21.|
Charles' withdrawal leaves the city without a council race for the first time in recent memory.
Charles had occupied the Place 1 seat on the council since her election in 2003; she had filed for her third term before withdrawing her candidacy last week.
In a letter e-mailed to many residents, Charles said, "Having encouraged Keith Donley to run for City Council in the past, I do not see why I should not support him in his candidacy now."
Charles Bujan is unopposed in his candidacy for Place 3 on the council. That place was occupied by Jerry Watson until his death in January; the council appointed Jim Pawlechek to fill the seat until the May election. Pawlechek said in his application for appointment that he did not intend to run in this year's council election, though he said he intends to seek a way to serve the community in the future.
Place 5 Councilman Rick Pratt is unopposed for a second term on the council.
Although Charles has withdrawn from the race, her name will appear on the ballot because the announcement that she would not seek re-election came one day after the deadline for removing
|names from the ballot.|
Voters in the Port Aransas ISD still have a race to consider, however. In challenging incumbent Chuck Borders for Place 5 on the school board, Rita Reed said three areas need addressing: over-emphasis on the TAKS test, too much dependent on educational fads and satisfaction with the district's status quo.
Borders cited his experience on the school board and as a community volunteer and pointed to the Texas Education Agency's recognition of H.G. Olsen Elementary School as an "exemplary" campus, up from a "recognized" campus last year. He urged voters not to change horses in the middle of the stream for no good reason.
Even so, city voters have 27 proposed city charter amendments to pore over in the voting booth. Council members picked those 27, but rejected one possible amendment, in a meeting on Monday, Feb. 26. Not on the ballot will be the suggestion that the charter require only two public readings, instead of the current three readings, to finalize a city ordinance. Council members decided that suggestion wouldn't fly with voters and refused to include it in the May 12 election.
Those proposals, submitted by a five-member charter review commission, range from simply changing the way the charter reads so it complies with state law to amending the way citizens can force an election or recall someone on the council.
Petitions for referendum, initiative and recall can be submitted by citizens who believe the council isn't passing ordinances or taking actions desired by most voters. The proposed amendment doesn't change the circumstances under which a petition can be submitted.
Charter review commission Chairman Charlie Zahn said Watson appeared before the commission to argue for the change in the referendum, initiative and recall provision. Watson was elected after leading a drive to limit how the council spent money on the Charlie's Pasture Nature Preserve; the petition failed because it wasn't within petition guidelines required by the city charter.
"He's not here to argue with me, but I think Jerry would like this provision," Zahn said.
One proposal the commission declined to recommend to the council would have called for the appointment of citizen commissions to oversee the city's public safety and harbor departments and beach management.
"The original city charter provided for public safety and harbor boards," Zahn told the council. "We felt we didn't need to have citizens micromanaging, and voters agreed to take them out of the charter. There was a request to put them back in, but the commission voted 4-1 to leave things as they are."
He pointed out that the council had appointed a temporary beach advisory board as recently as last year, and has the power to appoint virtually any kind of citizen board it wants
"We felt we didn't need to have a board or commission just to have a board or commission," he said.
The final proposal of the 28 would allow the council to make changes by ordinance in cases where the charter conflicts with federal or state law. This would eliminate some of the so-called "housekeeping" charter amendments in the future, Zahn said.
Asked by Charles whether a catalog of 28 proposed amendments was out of line, he said no.
"This seems about average," he said.
Besides the city charter and school board elections, a Texas constitutional amendment also will appear on the ballot. That amendment reads, "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for public school purposes on the residence homesteads of the elderly or disabled to reflect any reduction in the rate of those taxes for the 2006 and 2007 tax years."
Early voting starts at the Community Center on Monday, April 30. The last day for early voting is Tuesday, May 8.
Polls are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on election day, Saturday, May 12.