Attorney General Ken Paxton has directed Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan and the Round Rock City Council to hold their municipal elections on the original date of November 3, 2020, asserting that their decision to postpone the city’s elections until next year is illegal.
The attorney general said that there would be repercussions for Morgan and the council if they fail to comply, including possible removal from office.
“Because the City lacks authority to postpone its election under these circumstances, as outlined below, the City should begin preparing to hold its election on November 3, 2020. Should the City fail to do so, the Office of Attorney General will take appropriate action within its authority to ensure the City complies with State law,” Paxton explained.
In a five-page letter on Thursday to Morgan and the city council, Paxton rebutted Round Rock City Attorney Steve Sheets’ legal rationale for changing the election date to May 2021.
Morgan has said that Round Rock had to cancel its May elections because officials in Williamson and Travis counties would not provide election assistance. He contended that the city’s postponement to May 2021 is consistent with the city’s charter.
“Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, the City was forced to consider several options for holding our elections,” Morgan said when the city announced the postponement.
“The motion presented and voted upon at last night’s Council meeting moved the election to the uniform date that occurs in May by City Charter and ordinance.”
Sheets made legal arguments in his own letter on July 21 outlining the city’s basis for postponing the election until next year.
Paxton described the possible outcomes for Morgan and the city council if they flout the attorney general’s directions.
“Finally, we note that holding an improper election can produce severe consequences. If an election is held on the wrong date, the election is void. If the City decides not to hold its election in November, the City may be subject to civil litigation,” Paxton warned.
“In addition, violating the City’s charter, such as by not calling an election in accordance with the law, may be grounds for a forfeiture of office. Finally, an unlawful officeholder may be removed from office through a quo warranto action.”
The mayor did not immediately return a request for comment.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan in Dallas. During the academic year, he coaches high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.