In the Austin suburb of Round Rock, the mayor and two city councilmembers recently decided they’d give themselves an extra year in power, regardless of what voters want.
Late last week, the Round Rock City Council almost unanimously voted to postpone their local election by an entire year. Mayor Craig Morgan and two councilmembers—Tammy Young and Will Peckham—were facing re-election this year, but all three voted to instead put off the election until May 2021.
Originally, the election was supposed to take place two months ago, but the council delayed it until November after Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommendation because of coronavirus fears. Curiously, in April, Mayor Morgan joined other cities in sending Abbott a letter requesting to host the election sooner, saying it would benefit citizens to elect a new council before fall, when they will decide on next year’s tax rate and budget.
However, Morgan said he didn’t receive a written response from the governor, so instead of moving forward with hosting an August election, he and the council decided to just shield themselves from voters for an extra year. Morgan said he was concerned their names would “get lost” on a November ballot, that voters would somehow be impaired in selecting winners in the city contests just because federal and state races would appear on the ballot first.
Furthermore, city hall has blocked any new candidates from entering the council races—despite postponing the election until 2021. They announced they will not extend the candidate filling.
Only one councilmember voted against the decision, saying the city violated their obligation to the voters.
“In the governor’s proclamation that was issued back in March, he allowed municipalities to postpone the May election until November. And then the city of Round Rock issued a resolution subsequent to that indicating that we would hold the May 2 election in November, but we would ask for an earlier date than that,” said Councilmember Hilda Montgomery. “I felt like we had a social agreement with the voters, we had notified them when we were planning to hold it, and May 2021 was not the plan.”
Several citizens also reacted to the council’s decision on social media, with one trying to bring it to the attention of the Texas attorney general.
“@KenPaxtonTX Round Rock City Council postponed their election until May 2021. What??! They voted themselves in for another year???” the individual wrote.
“The dumbest argument for voter suppression award goes to [Mayor Craig Morgan],” another replied. “He said he feared city candidates would ‘get lost’ at the base of a Nov election ballot filled w/ presidential & state races.”
While Morgan and the council have been in office, they’ve repeatedly raised taxes—currently taking roughly $400 more cash from the average local homeowner annually than just five years ago (the council is now charging an average property tax of $1,120). They have also made numerous corrupt special deals with millions of dollars of citizens’ money.
Concerned citizens who want the ability to vote this year can contact Mayor Morgan or the Round Rock City Council.