• September 21, 2014

Nolanville facing candidate shortage

Only 2 of 4 council vacancies filled

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Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 4:30 am

NOLANVILLE — Only two of four vacancies on the City Council were filled before filing ended Monday.

Councilman Dennis Biggs, who currently holds Seat 1, will be on the Nov. 4 ballot for mayor of Nolanville. Mayor Christina Rosenthal opted not to run for re-election.

Seat 3 Councilman David Escobar filed for Biggs’ seat, leaving open the seat he was appointed to July 24 after Sherese Karlsson resigned.

Seat 5 Councilman Dave Brackmann is not up for re-election.

Questions remain as to how Seats 2 and 4 will be filled. City Secretary Crystal Briggs said Marlene Fey and Ernesto Servan must remain in their seats after the Nov. 4 election, and the council will appoint someone to Seat 3.

“This won’t be a problem until after Nov. 4,” Briggs said.

However, she said, Fey and Servan have the option of resigning, and what would happen in the event of that is unclear.

Due to a holdover provision in Article 16, Section 17 of the Texas Constitution, council members must continue to perform their duties until a successor is sworn in. However, if council members choose to stop attending meetings after Nov. 4, little can be done to force them, said Scott Houston, general counsel attorney with the Texas Municipal League in Austin.

“In theory, they could come take whatever action is necessary after the election date to call special elections or fill vacancies by appointments,” Houston said. “But there may be people who just don’t want to serve anymore and may not show back up. If that’s the case, they’re really stuck.”

If the council cannot establish a quorum — a voting body of three to five individuals — Houston said, nothing can be done. He referenced a 2004 opinion by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott declaring that Haltom City, a home-rule municipality near Fort Worth, was unable to convene after five of its seven city council members were recalled.

“A quorum of a governmental body … is not reduced by virtue of a vacancy,” the opinion reads.

If a similar situation occurs in Nolanville, Houston said council members have the option of appealing to a district judge to order a special election. Without a quorum, the council has no authority to call a special election itself.

“Out of about 1,200 cities in Texas, almost 800 of them are under 5,000 in population,” Houston said. “You’d be surprised how hard it is to get people to run for those positions.”

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