• October 26, 2014

Killeen to request special election

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Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:09 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

By Sean Wardwell

Killeen Daily Herald

Killeen will not schedule any new City Council meetings or workshops, meaning council business effectively ended with Tuesday night's election results.

The successful recall of Councilmen Scott Cosper, Larry Cole, Juan Rivera, Kenny Wells and Billy Workman resulted in a loss of a quorum on the council, leaving it unable to consider any business once the vote is canvassed.

Now, the city will call on a district judge to order a special election to re-establish a quorum as soon as possible.

However, ordering that election could prove problematic on several levels.

The city already has an election scheduled for May, the cost of which is estimated by city staff to be $50,000, as Killeen opted in September to administer its own elections independent of Bell County. Adding another election before May would cost an additional $50,000.

For Cole, that price is too high. Following Tuesday's recall vote, he said that he believes the city shouldn't spend the extra money just to spend it again for regular elections.

"We (should) just wait until May and have (the election) then," he said.

It also is not guaranteed that a judge will consent to ordering the election. The Killeen city charter, while containing a provision for asking a judge to order a post-recall special election, also mandates the election be held on the next authorized uniform election date, which is in May.

The possibility remains that a judge could follow the provisions in the charter, leaving the city without a council quorum until then - a span of almost six months.

Other factors the city must consider include state election laws, which have supremacy over any provision of the city charter. Those laws prohibit any elections from taking place 30 days before or after a scheduled primary or primary runoff election.

Going further, the recall also upset the system by which city council members are elected. Had the recall been unsuccessful, the only open seats in the May 2012 municipal election would have been the at-large seats held by Cosper, Cole and Workman, with Cole and Workman term-limited.

Now, any candidate for the at-large seats must consider the possibility of filing for office for the special election and having to re-file almost immediately for the May election, as that is when Cosper, Cole and Workman's terms were set to end.

Then, in 2013, the four district seats on the council would normally be up for election. However, the recall's results now create an issue for Districts 1 and 2, whose voters will have to elect new representation in what should have been an off year for those seats.

This means anyone filing for Districts 1 and 2 would only serve for approximately 14 months before their terms end in May 2013, instead of a full two-year term.

The votes for the recall will be canvassed Nov. 17, according to Hilary Shine, Killeen's executive director of public information, who added there would not be a council workshop next week, effectively ending city business until a quorum can be re-established.

"The city, once the seats are vacated, will request a judge order a special election," she said, adding that Cosper, Cole, Rivera, Wells and Workman all remain city councilmen until the votes are canvassed next week.

Contact Sean Wardwell at seanw@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.

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