Kyle City Hall. File photo.
KYLE — The deadline for filing in a special Kyle City Council election passed Wednesday, setting up three races while pushing the city to the end of its legal wits.
Since filing began for county races, four of seven Kyle councilmembers have signed up to run for higher offices, compelling city attorneys to rifle through the city charter and state statutes. The Texas Constitution requires all councilmembers seeking higher office to resign their positions when more than a year remains on their terms.
Thus, four councilmembers have resigned their seats, which would make it impossible for the seven-member Kyle council to form a quorum were it not for a provision in the state constitution that allows resigning councilmembers to keep their seats until successors are determined.
Most of the jumble will be cleared up with the Feb. 13 special election, which will fill the mayor’s position and two city council seats.
The most complicated case involves the mayor’s race, where Place 5 Councilmember Lucy Johnson will go against Place 1 Councilmember Michelle Lopez. If Johnson loses the mayoral election, she will be off the council entirely. However, Lopez could lose the mayor’s race and stay on the council indefinitely, even though she, too, has resigned her seat.
Johnson, who started a three-year council term in May 2008, resigned her seat when she announced her run in December. Subsequently, four hopefuls have filed for her seat in the February election. By contrast, Lopez didn’t announce until earlier this month, too late for her seat to be included in the February special election. Because a successor to Lopez will not be determined in the February election, Lopez is secure on the council until at least the expiration of her term, which arrives in May. Meanwhile, Lopez can campaign, from a council position, to win that seat again in May.
According to the city charter, the city does not have to call a special election to fill a resigned councilmember’s seat if the next general election comes within 120 days of that councilmember’s resignation. Lopez resigned Monday and the next general election is on May 8 — 117 days later.
The Kyle City Council has not discussed the matter, but Kyle spokesman Jerry Hendrix said the time frame involved indicates that the city won’t have to call a special election for Lopez’s seat.
“Our attorneys have reviewed it, and are continuing to review it,” Hendrix said. “We believe we are in compliance with both state law and our charter.”
The mayor’s seat came open when Mayor Mike Gonzalez filed to run for Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner in the March Republican primary. Gonzalez is opposed by Hays CISD Trustee Mark Jones in the primary.
Running for Johnson’s Place 5 seat in the February election is a cast of four. One, Jaime Sanchez, won a law suit against the city over a piece of downtown property in 2008. Sanchez failed in a bid to join the council in 2006, when his suit was active. The other three candidates — John Simmang, artist Jon Claeton and Kyle firefighter Mike Fulton — are all seeking elected office for the first time.
The other Kyle Councilmember forced to resign as he seeks higher office is Ray Bryant of Place 6, which represents the eastern portions of the city. Bryant is unopposed in his Democratic primary bid for Precinct 2 Commissioner.
Two candidates have filed to run for Bryant’s seat. Russell Huebner is a local banker active in local organizations. Rhonda Cox, a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), is an assistant director of recreational sports at the University of Texas. Cox has served on six different city committees since moving to Kyle in 2001.
(Editor’s note: The above has been revised to indicate that the requirement for an elected city official to resign is given by the Texas Constitution, as is the provision that such office holders remain seated until their successors are chosen.)Email | Print