Irving’s City Secretary – Shanae Jennings – has again come under fire from State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) for allegedly violating the election code in an attempt to keep a mayoral candidate off the May ballot.

As Empower Texans reported last week, Jennings refused to accept the application and petition submitted by mayoral candidate Kristi Pena because five voters’ names on the petition were not an exact match with their voter registrations. Rinaldi responded that the city was violating the plain language of the Texas Election Code by rejecting Pena’s application.

Rinaldi now says that a Feb. 28 opinion issued by Texas’ Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas “confirmed what I said last week: that the City Secretary ignored state election law in rejecting Ms. Pena’s application for mayor.”

That opinion was issued in response to an emergency petition filed by Pena on Feb. 24 asking the Court to order Irving’s City Secretary to accept Pena’s application and petition and put her name on the ballot.

Rinaldi added that Pena’s original court petition was denied on a procedural ground “which has been rectified.”

From the opinion (emphasis added):

“Although the City Secretary would have a non-discretionary duty to accept relator’s application in light of uncontroverted affidavit testimony confirming the voter status of the challenged signatures, that duty will not arise until relator presents the evidence to the City Secretary and asks the City Secretary to accept the application and petition, place relator on the ballot, and redraw for ballot position.”

Wade Emmert, Pena’s attorney, confirmed he sent Jennings another request to accept Pena’s application and petition along with affidavits from the challenged voters. Despite the court’s ruling, the city again rejected Pena’s application.

“Yesterday’s opinion was a way the court could send the City of Irving a message without issuing an order.” Emmert said. “Unfortunately, the city didn’t get the message.”

Emmert refiled Pena’s emergency petition with the Court today. Given the time-sensitive nature of the issue, a quick response and resolution is expected.

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.

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