Editor’s note: This is the third in a four part series over the Charter amendments/propositions. Edits have been made to this story to correct the letters associated with the charter propositions.
The city of Marshall has proposed 16 amendments to the city charter to be voted on at the Nov. 3 election.
Each amendment will be an individual item on the ballot, and can be voted for or against independent of the document as a whole.
The details of four of the charter amendments ( J, K, L and M), the changes they make to the operations of the city of Marshall and more are outlined below.
Many amendment’s to the city of Marshall’s charter are focused on updating the original 1909 charter to be in regulation with current state law, which supersedes the city’s local laws.
Amendments that do so do not cause any actual changes to the daily operations of the city government, since this has been the law the government has been operating under since it was originally enacted.
Proposition J: Vacancies, Forfeitures of Office and Filing of Vacancies
This proposition if voted in, would alter the city charter by adding procedures to fill council member vacancy or forfeiture. Appointment to the seat may only be made within the first year and a Special Election will be called filing the remaining three years of the term.
“My opinion is all city districts should have representation, giving the district a voice,” City Commissioner Vernia Calhoun said. “Sure the other commissioners can help out during the absence of a commissioner for a long period of time but cannot vote on issues in the best interest of the district during the absence of their commissioner.”
This was the exact issued faced by commissioners in 2019 with the resignation of former District 2 Commissioner Gail Beil. Calhoun voiced concerns over the lack of representation for the district on a number of occasions, leading to the interviewing of potential candidates for the interim position until a special called election for the seat can be called.
Commissioner Leo Morris was selected for the interim position, and will serve as District 2 representative until the November election.
Commissioner Larry Hurta said that the commission did not have the right to vote Morris into the interim position, and this proposition would put clear regulations in place as to what the commission can and cannot do.
Hurta was absent from the interviews for the interim position and the vote electing Morris to the seat.
“I was vehemently opposed to Leo Morris being put in office, just because that is not something we can do,” Hurta said. “It may be the worst vote the commission has ever taken.”
He said that he is in favor of this proposition because it allows for clear language that spells out the procedure for the commission in this position.
Proposition K: Franchises and Public Utilities for the City to regulate by ordinance the transfer, regulations and rates and require two readings of the Ordinance
This proposition amends the current charter to allow the city to require two readings of an ordinance to transfer, regulate, regulate rates and penalties for public utilities and franchises.
It is fairly common practice for cities to require two readings of an ordinance.
Proposition L: General Provisions for Financial Interest, Oath of Office, Prohibited Activities, Claims against the City, Liens, Assignments, Garnishment and Security Bonds and Transitional Provisions for vested rights and effect on existing laws
This proposition amends the current charter to provide for financial interests of the Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and Officers to be as allowed by state law, provides for claims against the City, settlement of meritorious claims; provides for liens, assignment, garnishment and for the vested rights or privileges of City officers or employees and for the effect on existing laws of the adoption of amendments to the city charter.
Proposition M: Council allowed to Renumber and Rearrange Charter by Ordinance as long as no substantive change made
This proposition allows for the commission/council to edit the charter after is in enacted. The council will be allowed to renumber, rearrange and edit the text of the charter as long as no changes to the substance of the charter are made.
Early voting will kick off Oct. 13 through Oct. 30, with a weekend option at the main elections office. Weekend opening for the elections office will be Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Besides the weekend option at the main office, early voting will take place at all of the early voting sites from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13-Oct. 16, Oct. 19-Oct. 22 and Oct. 26-Oct. 29. Extended early voting hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, which are both on a Friday.
The seven early voting polling sites are: Waskom sub-courthouse, 165 W. Texas Ave.; Harleton Community Center, 4335 Community St.; Hallsville’s Gold Hall Community Center, 101 E. Elm St.; ESD No. 9 in Elysian Fields, 130 FM 451; Woodland Hills Baptist Church, 2105 E. Loop 281 in Longview; Karnack’s T.J. Taylor Community Center, 15642 FM 134; and the Harrison County Main Elections Office in Marshall.
All 26 precincts in the county will be open on Election Day.