San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 15th, 2009
Split votes reveal council patterns

Former San Marcos Councilmember Daniel Guerrero (left) and new Councilmember Fred Terry (right).

Analysis
By ED MIHALKANIN
and JUSTIN FAHEY
News Reporters

From the action on the dias, the rhetoric of politics and conflicts about issues as they are discussed in the street, one might think the San Marcos City Council is a divided body.

In fact, the last city council voted unanimously in 294 of 311 cases between Nov. 20, 2007 and Nov. 3, 2008.

Thus, the council only split on 17 votes, or 5.4 percent of the time. Despite too small of a sampling for a statistical analysis, the split votes render a meaningful descriptive analysis of how the council acts on more controversial measures.

Such an analysis reveals that there was no majority faction on the last San Marcos council. Rather, there were two minority factions and two swing votes.

The stronger of the factions consisted of Mayor Susan Narvaiz with Councilmembers Kim Porterfield and Pam Couch. The weaker faction consisted of Councilmembers Gaylor Bose and John Thomaides. In between were Councilmembers Chris Jones and Daniel Guerrero, who emerged as the difference between victory and defeat for either side.

The only change on the new council is that Guerrero, who did not run for re-election, has been replaced by Fred Terry, who ran unopposed. The analysis of the last council indicates that Terry figures as a key player on the new council because he replaces a swing vote.

Narvaiz, Porterfield and Couch (NPC) formed a tidy cluster around swing votes. No two councilmembers voted alike on swing votes with the frequency of Narvaiz and Porterfield, who cast the same vote in 16 out of 17 cases (94.11 percent). Couch and Porterfield had the second highest frequency of voting alike at 88.23 percent (15 votes), while Narvaiz and Couch came in third at 82.35 percent (14 votes).

No other pairing of councilmembers voted the same more than 64.7 percent of the time (11 votes).

NPC could carry an issue simply by appealing to one swing vote. That vote was most likely, if barely, to come from Guerrero, who voted with Couch 64.7 percent of the time (11 votes), with Porterfield 64.7 percent of the time (11 votes) and with Narvaiz 58.82 percent of the time (10 votes). But Jones also frequently sided with NPC, voting with Porterfield 64.7 percent of the time (11 votes), with Couch 58.82 percent of the time (10 votes) and with Narvaiz 58.82 percent of the time (10 votes).

Yet, Jones and Guerrero voted together only 35.29 percent of the time (six votes) on issues that split the council. It appears that the NPC group was able to appeal successfully to either Guerrero or Jones to reach the fourth vote more than it was able to appeal to both in the same votes.

Bose and Thomaides voted together 64.7 percent of the time (11 votes) in split votes. However, neither voted in agreement with the swing voters, Jones and Guerrero, even half the time in split votes. Jones voted with Thomaides 41.17 percent of the time (seven votes) and with Bose 35.29 percent of the time (six votes). Guerrero voted with Thomaides 29.41 percent of the time (five votes) and with Bose 23.52 percent of the time (four votes).

Hazarding a prediction about the current council, it may be said that the NPC grouping will continue to exist, as will the Bose-Thomaides grouping. If the past is prologue, Jones may vote with the NPC group more than 50 percent of the time, but the pattern may not be fixed. Jones’ swing vote status makes Terry’s votes a key towards reaching a council majority on issues dividing the community.

Following is the breakdown of split votes on the last city council. For each councilmember, the frequency of voting alike with each other councilmember is given:

Mayor Susan Narvaiz – With Kim Porterfield (16 votes, 94.11 percent), with Pam Couch (14 votes, 82.35 percent), with Chris Jones (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with John Thomaides (seven votes, 41.17 percent), with Gaylord Bose (seven votes, 41.17 percent).

Councilmember Gaylord Bose – With John Thomaides (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Kim Porterfield (eight votes, 47.05 percent), with Susan Narvaiz (seven votes, 41.17 percent), with Chris Jones (six votes, 35.29 percent), with Pam Couch (six votes, 35.29 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (four votes, 23.52 percent).

Councilmember Pam Couch –
With Kim Porterfield (15 votes, 88.23 percent), with Susan Narvaiz (14 votes, 82.35 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with Chris Jones (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with John Thomaides (six votes, 35.29 percent), with Gaylord Bose (six votes, 35.29 percent).

Councilmember Daniel Guerrero – With Pam Couch (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Kim Porterfield (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Susan Narvaiz (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with Chris Jones (six votes, 35.29 percent), with John Thomaides (five votes, 29.41 percent), with Gaylord Bose (four votes, 23.52 percent).

Councilmember Chris Jones – With Kim Porterfield (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Susan Narvaiz (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with Pam Couch (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with John Thomaides (seven votes, 41.7 percent), with Gaylord Bose (six votes, 35.29 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (six votes, 35.29 percent).

Councilmember Kim Porterfield – With Susan Narvaiz (16 votes, 94.11 percent), with Pam Couch (14 votes, 82.35 percent), with Chris Jones (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (10 votes, 58.82 percent), with John Thomaides (eight votes, 47.05 percent), with Gaylord Bose (eight votes, 47.05 percent).

Councilmember John Thomaides – With Gaylord Bose (11 votes, 64.7 percent), with Kim Porterfield (eight votes, 47.05 percent), with Chris Jones (seven votes, 41.7 percent), with Susan Narvaiz (seven votes, 41.17 percent), with Pam Couch (six votes, 35.29 percent), with Daniel Guerrero (five votes, 29.41 percent).

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0 thoughts on “Split votes reveal council patterns

  1. Wow, when you break it down that way, the council appears autocratic! Does Austin or San Antonio have similar stats? I sure hope so, if not I’m embarrassed by our blind leading the blind city council.

  2. Most of what our city council, or any legislative body for that matter, votes on is non contorversial matters

  3. I have to concur with Larry, the same applies to courts too; an overwhelming % of contested traffic tickets are either thrown out or only one side shows up.

    The % at the end and the ‘coalition/voting bloc’ theory is probobly true….Interesting that Narvaiz and Porterfield only dissagreed once over an entire year.

  4. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER : Newstreamz San Marcos

  5. I wish Ed were back on City Council instead of writing about it. But I appreciate the ‘real’ reporting of the Council meetings. Thanks.

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