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Five candidates, three city charter amendments to be on College Station’s November ballot

Five candidates, three city charter amendments to be on College Station’s November ballot

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Names were drawn Tuesday morning to select the order in which College Station city council candidates will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

For Place 4, incumbent Elizabeth Cunha will come before Planning and Zoning Commissioner William Wright. Incumbent Dennis Maloney will be the first name under the Place 6 race, followed by First Adventures Daycare Owner Marie-Anne Mousseau-Holland then self-described business leader David Levine.

College Station voters also will have a chance to weigh in on three city charter amendments, two of which concern ethical requirements for council members and a third which could change when elections are held in the future.

If proposition one passes, it would change the city charter so that it prevents a council member from being involved in any contract with the city if there is a financial interest whether it be large or small. For example, if a council member is employed by a local business and gets any of their income from that job, the city cannot contract with that business while that council member is sitting on the council. The change would not impact any existing contracts.

This language would be similar to what the city’s charter said prior to 2012. It would be a shift from the city’s current policy that defers to state law, which states that council members should not vote or participate in an item if they have a substantial interest in that business for which a contract is being considered.

The second proposition will ask voters if they would like to add a new section to the city charter which would require city council members to disclose campaign contributions greater than $500 and also abstain from voting on matters that could materially benefit the campaign contributor or business entity in which the campaign contributor has a substantial interest. It would be up to the campaign contributor to identify their business interests. If this change were made, the rule would apply to the council member throughout their full term. The recusal requirement applies only to contributions made to the council member for the position they are currently elected for and not any prior elected positions they have held.

If this rule leads the council to be unable to obtain a quorum, the council member can return to the meeting to debate and vote on the matter as long as the conflict of interest is disclosed on the record.

The final proposition, if approved, would move elections set in November of even-numbered years to odd-numbered years. The topic is one that split the council, with council members Bob Brick, Linda Harvell, John Crompton and Dennis Maloney expressing support for the change in past meetings, while Mayor Karl Mooney, councilman John Nichols and councilwoman Elizabeth Cunha opposing it.

Arguments in favor of keeping even-numbered years included a desire to conduct elections when there is higher voter turnout, while arguments for switching to odd-numbered years have included a concern that local elections could be overshadowed when they fall at the same time as higher-level governmental races.

Election day is on Nov. 2 at 25 polling locations. Early voting will run from Oct. 18-29.

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