Only half of the people wanting to be an Isaacson Municipal Utility District director this May will get to be on the ballot. The other four (two former IMUD board members and two previous candidate applicants) have been disqualified.
IMUD Board President Collette Popp says the narrowing of the candidate field is the result of due diligence in checking applications.
Current IMUD board member Marc Welfel is in charge of reviewing candidate applications and did not return a Leader-News call requesting comment. He, along with Popp, are approved candidates and will be on the upcoming ballot with Angelica “Angie” Arismendez. Former board member Jane Moctezuma Macal has applied for a spot on the ballot, but has yet to be approved, told she had to go to a local business and submit to a background check.
Former board members Floyd Fisher and Lisa Pena were disqualified due to changes in the district by-laws, according to Popp.
Linda Harding and Shawn Smith, who Popp says have been ruled out of district, were disqualified as well. That IMUD judgment is now the subject a civil suit pending in the 329th District Court. A hearing is set for March 11.
The two are on the IMUD voter rolls, according to March 5, 2018 letter from Wharton County Elections Administrator Cindy Richter.
Fisher and Pena say they may contest their disqualifications as well, questioning the by-law ruling. By-laws, similar to a city charter, outline the operating procedures for the district.
The Leader-News requested Popp supply information on what by-law disqualified Fisher and Pena Friday and was told to file an Open Records request. The newspaper complied. Monday Willis & Willis law firm of El Campo contacted the Leader-News via email saying the by-laws could be reviewed at district offices Tuesday evening, after presstime.
Pena received a disqualification letter from IMUD dated Feb. 18. It says, “Resolution No. 7 requirements to run for the board include to have properly completed all duties as a prior employee or board member.
Therefore, application is not accepted.” Specifically, the letter says, “while under your tenure as board secretary in 2016, the minutes were never complied and/or submitted for district record.” Pena said Saturday that she had not been notified of failure to complete any duties in the past.
The letter Fisher received said he was being disqualified for missing meetings while on the board.
“It also said I tried to make a deal in the parking lot (forgiving a person’s water bill), but that never happened.” His actions, according to the letter he received, involved conduct in 2017 which was not discussed by the board until 2018.
The Leader-News has contacted the Texas Secretary of State Election Division for comment on candidate qualifications. No reply had been received as of presstime.
“It’s a gross injustice,” Fisher said. “I didn’t want to run again, but it upsets me if someone does something and gets away with it.”