Elections 2022Local NewsJudge Allows Ector County Water District Election to Proceed

A judge is allowing an election for two seats on the Ector County Utility District to proceed after initially pausing the election.
October 24, 2022
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After issuing a temporary restraining order halting the November election for two seats on the Ector County Utility District (ECUD), State District Judge John Shrode denied Plaintiffs Troy Walker, Will Kappauf, and Jesse Christesson’s request for an injunction that would fully stop the election.

The decision comes just before early voting begins on Monday for the November 8 election, which will allow voters in the district to decide between three candidates on the ballot: incumbent Directors Walker andKappauf, and a challenger in the race, Sheila Black.

Both seats serve at-large districts, and the top two vote winners will be elected to office.

In making his decision, Judge Shrode announced that his denying the injunction had no bearing on the case. Rather, his determination was based on the standard in which parties are entitled to injunctive relief, explaining that injunctions can only be used in cases of “extra necessity or hardship” and that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated the critical level of hardship needed.

Attorneys representing ECUD made numerous procedural rebuttals against the plaintiffs while seemingly conceding on numerous fronts that the district has broken the law regarding the way it has handled its elections in the past.

The Texan Tumbler

The defendants argued that the Texas Water Code gives ECUD immunity to legal challenges for illegal acts committed over three years in the past, and argued that because ECUD contracted with Ector County to hold the election, they had “passed the baton” and could not stop it – placing them outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The plaintiffs countered that ECUD is still presently breaking the law and that Texas law gives the ECUD board the power to stop the election until voting begins Monday, which would place it within the court’s jurisdiction.

While the election will move forward, the lawsuit seeking to correct the district’s elections will as well.

ECUD is a municipal water district under Texas law that is governed by a five-member board of directors each elected to four-year terms. The district provides drinking water to a large unincorporated area of West Ector County known as “West Odessa.”

 The board is governed by Directors Tommy Ervin, Stephanie Shaw, Margaret Burton, Walker, and Kappauf.

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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy in West Texas. He graduated summa cum laude from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and is presently finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.