Here are some highlights from the May 4 local elections across Texas

Voters cast ballots on pot decriminalization, bonds and school board races.

By The Texas NewsroomMay 6, 2024 10:44 am,

Voters in cities all across Texas headed to the polls on Saturday for municipal elections. Ballots included everything from bonds to school board races. 

Though historically May elections in the Lone Star State have much lower turnout than November contests, many of the issues at hand effect residents’ day to day lives 

Dallas voters approve bond propositions totaling over a billion dollars

Ten propositions were on the ballot in Dallas this spring, which together made up a $1.25 billion bond package. All ten got strong support from Dallas residents who turned out to vote in Saturday’s election. 

The bond money will go to projects like fixing streets and roads and developing more housing options.

Ultimately, Dallas taxpayers are on the hook for paying back the debt. On election night, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said city leaders can’t keep increasing the budget annually to meet the needs of the city.  

“That would absolutely require an immediate raising of people’s taxes,” Johnson said. “That would be pretty brutal. So we’ve got to do some debt financing in combination with more careful budgeting.”

Despite the election night results, some of the propositions did face opposition from Dallas residents and elected officials. That includes $50 million to build a new police training facility near a predominantly minority community in southern Dallas. And at least one Dallas City Council member said it was unwise to fund the propositions related to housing, citing other ways the city could help develop more options. 

– Nathan Collins, KERA

San Antonio-area school board candidates battle for ideological control

North East ISD is one of over a dozen school districts around San Antonio. Before the election, its board of trustees were at a tipping point with three moderate and three conservative members.

But on Saturday, voters handed a decisive victory to all five moderate candidates on the ballot, returning the district to a solid moderate majority.  

Retired North East ISD principal Terri Chidgey defeated a conservative incumbent to win her seat. 

“I’m very surprised. Very surprised,” she said. “Never did I expect that all five would win. That, of course, was a goal, but it was just beyond excitement.”

Chidgey and the other new trustees say they hope their win lets the district shift its focus back to student success and away from politics. The high stakes election attracted a record amount of campaign donations, including the attention of three political action committees. 

– Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio

Lubbock voters shoot down pot decriminalization

Voters in Lubbock ultimately rejected the highest profile measure on the ballot — Proposition A — which would have decriminalized low level marijuana possession in Lubbock city limits. 

While just 19% of Lubbock’s eligible voters cast ballots in the election, that’s actually the highest voter turnout the city has seen from a May municipal election in 20 years. 

The measure landed before voters after a grassroots effort. While unsuccessful, organizer Adam Hernandez says relatively high turnout at the polls is something to celebrate. Still, Hernandez says the number and spread of votes cast does underline a longstanding problem with representation in Lubbock. 

“Right now, we have two – literally two – districts of the city that decide all of the decisions and all of the leadership,” he said. 

Prop A was opposed by Lubbock state representatives, law enforcement, and area megachurches. The coalition ran a well-funded political campaign to speak out against the proposition, saying the changes would have undermined public safety.

Similar measures did recently pass in five other Texas cities, including Austin and Denton. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the cities over the measures earlier this year. 

– Brad Burt, KTTZ

Political newcomer clinches Houston seat in Texas Senate

Molly Cook jumped out to a sizable lead over State Representative Jarvis Johnson when Harris County released the early voting numbers in the special election Saturday evening. 

By the time the unofficial final results came out early Sunday morning, Cook led by more than 2,000 votes out of about 16,000 cast — more than 14 percentage points. 

Cook previously challenged then-State Sen. John Whitmire for the Democratic nomination for Senate District 15 in 2022. She lost that race by nearly 20 points but gained name recognition. Her victory in this special election makes her the first openly LGBTQ+ state senator in Texas. 

She’ll face Johnson one more time in the Democratic primary runoff on May 28 to determine who will represent the party in the general election. The winner of the November contest will represent Senate District 15 in next year’s legislative session.

– Andrew Schneider, Houston Public Media

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