Lakeway puts forward election plan; city attorney resigns

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The city of Lakeway accepted a resignation letter May 21 from its outside legal firm, Mayor Sandy Cox told a meeting of city council the same day.

The Borjorquez Law Firm is the same one the city relied on during the process to amend its city charter in 2014, which ultimately led to a scramble to hold a fair election for the open positions of mayor and two council members earlier this spring.

In the letter, obtained by Community Impact Newspaper, attorney Alan Bojorquez wrote while his team did a superior job of representing the city of Lakeway, there were errors along the way.

“It is difficult to explain what did (or did not) occur during those discussions and drafting activities four years ago. Suffice it to say I was City Attorney at the time, and the responsibility to protect the city of Lakeway fell primarily to me.

“I am aware that the election-related confusion and controversies have caused many in the community, and some at City Hall, to have lost confidence in my ability to continue serving Lakeway,” Borjorquez wrote.

City of Lakeway elected leaders adopted an ordinance at a special meeting May 16 to formally re-adopt two-year terms office for council members moving forward.

The decision came after it was revealed prior to the May 5 local election, changes to the city charter that voters approved in 2014 to establish three-year staggered terms for council members resulted in new rules that had not been properly followed as required under the state constitution.

“It was brought to our attention that there were two other items that were missed by our legal counsel at the time,” outgoing Mayor Joe Bain wrote in his blog.

Attorneys missed the fact the city of Lakeway needed to adopt a place system so candidates would sign up for a specific council seat and that election would require a majority vote instead of a plurality, Bain wrote.

Since the May 5 election had already been called and campaigns were underway on April 23, the city agreed with advice from the Texas Secretary of State and paused implementation of the three-year term of office in order for the mayor and two council member seats to be chosen in the fairest way possible.

Any candidate who had won a three-year term went to a two-year term, and anyone in their third year was considered a holdover until the next election. The change also eliminated constitutionally-mandated runoff elections, which are only held in cities with three-year terms.

Newly-elected Mayor Sandy Cox will serve as mayor for the remainder of the unexpired term to end in May 2019, the same term for second-place incumbent Council Member Keith Trecker. Former Zoning and Planning Commission member Steve Smith, having received the highest number of votes May 5, was elected to a full, two-year council term on council.

As part of filing to run for mayor, Council Member Jean Hennagin gave up her seat under the state’s “resign to run” rule for candidates running in jurisdictions where there are three-year terms. After the decision was made to revert to shorter terms, Hennagin was able to resume her council duties after receiving fewer votes than Cox.

Separately, the other unsuccessful mayoral candidate Tiffany McMillan—who garnered the second most votes—petitioned May 14 to have Lakeway’s May election declared counter to the Texas Election Code for failing to call for a runoff, since the city’s April 23 ordinance re-instituting two-year terms conflicted with the Lakeway city charter permitting three-year terms.

The city of Lakeway, which was not named in the petition, filed a brief in response. A Travis County district judge ultimately denied the request to prevent the seating of Sandy Cox, who won 42 percent of the vote.

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Rob Maxwell
Rob Maxwell joined the world of print journalism and Community Impact in Sept. 2017 as editor of the Lake Travis - Westlake edition. He previously enjoyed a successful and rewarding career in radio and television news. In his spare time, Rob can be found scoping out area climbing walls and hiking trails. He lives in Cedar Park with his wife and daughters and looks forward to receiving his LCP edition of Community Impact Newspaper every month.
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