Mayor Craig Morgan has sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requesting a proclamation that would allow Round Rock and other public entities to conduct elections in August. Abbott issued a proclamation in March postponing May 2 local elections due to concerns of spreading the Coronavirus.
“The elected officials of Round Rock understand and support why you felt it important that the May 2, 2020 election be postponed,” Morgan writes. “The Covid-19 pandemic left all of us with little choice in the matter. However, we believe that there are legitimate public health and safety and other important considerations for allowing local governments the flexibility to move the May 2020 election to a date earlier than November 3, 2020.”
Nine other cities, along with a water control and improvement district, have joined the City of Round Rock in requesting of Gov. Abbott an option to a Nov. 3 election date for local governments.
Choosing a date in August would allow newly elected City Councilmembers to participate in votes on the budget and tax rates for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.
“Members of the city council elected at a November election will have no say or input into these critical matters,” Morgan writes. “More importantly, the voters will not be able to choose who will represent them in these matters. Calling the election for a date in August will give a voice to the voters and allow the newly elected officials to debate and vote on the annual budget and tax rate which will be adopted in September.”
The letter also cites public statements by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, noting the possibility of a seasonality to the virus, meaning it could slow its spread in summer months but spread more quickly in the fall.
“In summary, please recognize that the voters and their elected representatives generally know what is in their own best interests,” Morgan concludes. “Please allow the representatives of local governments to have the flexibility to choose to conduct their election before November 3, 2020.”
Joining the City of Round Rock making this request are the cities of Abilene, Addison, Allen, Anna, Big Spring, Cedar Park, Fairview, Haskell, the Town of Providence Village and Lytle Lake WCID.
Included with the letter was a legal memorandum from City Attorney Stephan L. Sheets regarding the Governor’s authority to change the election date.
The City Council voted April 9 to postpone the May 2 election until Nov. 3 or an earlier date.