Elections 2022JudicialLocal NewsState Judge Halts Ector County Utility District Board Election for ‘Wrong Board Members’

A state district judge has issued a restraining order voiding the November election in response to a lawsuit alleging the district placed the wrong seats in the wrong election.
October 5, 2022
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Two board members of the Ector County Utility District (ECUD) alongside a West Odessa resident saw a legal victory in a lawsuit the trio filed against the water district, alleging that ECUD placed the wrong board members up for election at the wrong time and in the wrong election.

“It is therefore declared that the November 8, 2022, election for directors of the board of the Ector County Utility District (“ECUD”) is being conducted in violation of statute, that the result will be void,” states the restraining order signed by State District Judge John Shrode.

Board members Troy Walker and Will Kappauf, along with resident Jesse Christesson, filed the lawsuit last month after failing to convince the board that they had placed the wrong directors — Walker and Kappauf — up for re-election this November.

The plaintiffs argue the district should have called an election in May of this year for directors Stephanie Shaw, Troy Walker, and Margaret Burton instead, but no election was held.

The court order granted by Judge Shrode restrained ECUD from taking any steps to conduct the election for the next ten days and scheduled a hearing for a preliminary injunction on October 13.

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Three candidates were on the November election ballot for two at-large positions on the ECUD board of directors, including incumbents Walker and Kappauf and challenger Sheila Black.

The candidates receiving the top two highest vote totals would be declared elected if the election were to be held. 

The water district, which is a local government entity under state law, provides drinking water to some 66 square miles of West Ector County and includes a large unincorporated area known as “West Odessa.” 

 The hearing comes just before early voting is scheduled to begin on October 24 for the November 8 general election.

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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.