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City Council calls charter amendment election
Lewisville City Council has called a charter amendment election to be held Tuesday, Nov. 7, so voters can decide on two propositions dealing with potential governance changes.
The two propositions on the ballot are:
Should the charter be amended to provide that if, prior to January 1, 2023, the city makes an annexation that increases the geographic size of the city by at least eight percent, the city will convert to an election system using residential election districts – i.e. candidates will be required to live in a specified district but will continue to be elected by the vote of the entire city.
Should the charter be amended to provide that city council vacancies for which the unexpired term is twelve months or less shall be filled within thirty days of the occurrence of the vacancy by appointment of a majority vote of the remaining city council members, while vacancies for which the unexpired term is for more than twelve months shall be filled by a majority of the qualified voters in a special election; provided that all vacancies filed by appointment or election shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term of the office so filled.
Under the First Proposition, the city would be divided into five residential districts of a relatively equal total population, numbered according to the five City Council seats. In order to run for a Council seat, a candidate would be required to live in the corresponding district. Candidates for mayor could live anywhere within the city.
Unlike a single-member district structure, all City Council positions would be elected at-large, with all Lewisville voters eligible to vote for all positions on the ballot. Once elected, Council members would be required to continue living in their district to retain their office.
The change to residential districts would not take effect until future annexations added at least 8 percent to the city’s total land mass. This is most likely to happen if the Castle Hills development is annexed into Lewisville. At that point, the city would be divided into five Council districts of equal population based on the most recent Federal Census data. District boundaries would be redrawn every 10 years after new Census data is released.
In addition to qualifications for office prescribed by state law, the charter change would require Council candidates to have lived continuously in the associated residential district for six months prior to the regular filing deadline for a place on the ballot. If an existing Council member is placed in a different district after a subsequent boundary change, he or she would have to run for office in the new district at the next scheduled election.
This proposition would reflect a change in state law that allows cities to fill a Council vacancy by appointment if the vacancy occurs with less than 12 months remaining in the elected term. If the remaining term is longer than 12 months, a special election would be held to fill the position. Lewisville City Charter currently requires all Council vacancies to be filled through a special election.
Cities are allowed Charter Amendment elections once every two years. The last time the Lewisville City Charter was amended was in 2004.
In 2015, a five-member Charter Review Committee was appointed to review the City Charter – the constitutional document that establishes the structure of city government. The five members of the Charter Review Committee included former Mayor Gene Carey, Kenneth Judkins, Stephen Southwell, Lathan Watts, and Karen Boenker.
The committee made several recommendations, but voted not to recommend a change in Council structure at that time. The committee did recommend that Council review its governance structure prior to any future annexations.
Early voting for Lewisville residents will begin Monday, Oct. 23.