With strong encouragement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, local governments across the state are postponing May elections due to the public health emergency created by the coronavirus.

This week, McKinney joined other cities heeding the governor’s advice.

On Tuesday, McKinney council members voted to postpone, until November 3, the lone election on the city’s May 2 ballot: a special election to recall District 1 Council Member La’Shadion Shemwell.

The city was required to order the election after more than 3,000 voters signed a petition to recall Shemwell, an outspoken Black Lives Matter activist. Residents who initiated the recall said Shemwell’s false claims of institutional racism within McKinney hurt the entire city.

Shemwell filed a voting rights lawsuit against the city in January, hoping to block the election.

His complaint challenged the legality of certain recall provisions in the city charter, approved by voters last May, that lowered the number of signatures required on recall petitions and clarified that all recall elections are citywide. Shemwell was elected by voters in his district and says only they should be able to remove him.

But Shemwell quietly dropped his lawsuit two weeks ago, also citing concern about the coronavirus.

He and the city have not “worked it out,” he said last week on Facebook. “But more importantly I need my total focus to be on saving as many lives as possible during this pandemic.”

His attorney filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on March 13—the same day the city asked a judge to accept its statement of facts in the case, because Shemwell had failed to respond to requests for information.

Shemwell could refile his complaint at a later date.

The recall was the only item on the city’s May 2020 ballot. McKinney elects council members in May of odd-numbered years.

City and school officials in Allen also voted this week to postpone their May elections until November. Other cities and school districts are also expected to follow the governor’s advice.

Earlier this month, Abbott issued a waiver allowing local governments to move elections scheduled for May 2 to the November 3 general election date due the coronavirus pandemic.

“I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November,” said Abbott.

Voters should contact their city council and school board for specific information about their local elections.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.