The effort to hold a city at-large representative council election officially restarts Monday, more than two months after winners should have been sworn into office.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, has ensured that little, if anything, has gone as planned in the year 2020.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the election delay, setting balloting to correspond with the November General Election that includes the Presidential race.
Monday, council is expected to officially approve an agreement with the Wharton County Office of Elections Administration to conduct at-large voting.
Also on the now-November city election ballot are proposed charter amendments, including one which may make the vote a mayor’s race in addition to a race for a seat on council.
Currently, only council has a vote on who their presiding member will be, decided yearly.
If the proposed charter amendment is successful, it would make the top vote-getter among at-large representatives the mayor and the number two finisher the mayor pro tem. The approved amendment would go into effect as the winners among the six November candidates are sworn into office.
Incumbents Chris Barbee and Philip Miller (currently the mayor pro tem) face four challengers in the race where El Campo voters are asked to select three from the group filed.
Barbee, a former newspaper publisher and city employee, collected the most votes in the 2018 at-large balloting, but was not selected as mayor in favor of Randy Collins.
Collins, the current city mayor, is stepping down, a requirement of term limits. Overall, Collins has spent 20 years on Council.
Miller, who did finish second in 2018 at-large balloting, is a former city mayor and Wharton County commissioner.
Challengers are teacher Alicia Aguilar, political newcomer Eugene Bustamante, who is a retired El Campo volunteer firefighter, former school board president Ralph Novosad and former El Campo City Manager Mindi Snyder.
The uncontested District 1 unexpired term currently held by Anisa Vasquez is also on the ballot.
Vasquez was appointed to the post upon the resignation of Councilman Jeff Allgayer in January.
El Campo City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday in chambers, 315 E. Jackson. The meeting is open to the public with time specifically designated for citizen comments, however, due to the pandemic, attendance is limited to 26 to allow for social distancing.
Those wanting to comment to council also have the option of emailing comments to email@example.com. Comments received before 2 p.m. Monday will be presented to council and included in the meeting minutes, becoming part of the official record.
Other items before Council include:
• An update is expected on pending state COVID-19 testing dates within the El Campo city limits.
“We will be updating the council on community testing dates with the third party from the state and future testing,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.
• The purchase of a Pierce Street lot will be considered as part of the consent agenda. The land, approved for purchase following a previous closed session, will be used to house equipment. It currently has a barn/small warehouse on it.
Purchase price is set at $145,000.
• Changes to drives and entrances in the city’s construction design manual will be presented for approval.
• An update on rail park efforts is anticipated (please see related story).