By a vote of 6-1, the City of Round Rock opted to delay its municipal elections until May 2021 over fears of COVID-19 contagion at polling places.
The move extends the mayor’s term to four years, even though Round Rock voters only elected him to a three-year term.
Councilmembers Will Peckham and Tammy Young, elected by voters to three-year terms in 2017, will instead serve for four years.
Hilda Montgomery was the only member who voted against the postponement.
In March, Gov. Greg Abbott authorized localities to reset their elections from May 2 to November 30.
“I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November,” Abbott said at the time.
However, the City of Round Rock invoked its city charter and ordinances to delay its elections to next year instead.
“Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, the City was forced to consider several options for holding our elections,” Mayor Craig Morgan said.
“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.” The city did not state their specific legal justification for extending the terms of Morgan, Peckham, and Young.
The announcement webpage provided links to Section 2-25 of Round Rock’s city ordinances, which sets the date of the annual election and the date of new councilmembers’ inaugurations.
The city’s statement also provided a link to Section 5.01 of the city’s charter, which delineates various rules for city elections.
However, neither of these sections specifically address delaying one year’s election to the next year or extending an elected official’s term.
Section 3.02 of the city charter says that officeholders shall occupy their offices for terms of three years.
UPDATE: Mayor Craig Morgan requested a legal opinion from City Attorney Steve Sheets on the city’s decision to postpone the election to May 2021. Sheets authored a letter to Morgan and the Round Rock City Council on Tuesday, which can be found below.
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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.