Approximately $18,000 is the price tag for Kyle to hold a May 4 special election to fill the District 3 city council seat vacated earlier this month.
On Saturday, the Kyle City Council voted 6-0 on second and final reading to call the special election to replace longtime member Shane Arabie.
But the decision didn’t come without debate as city officials sparred on the number of early voting and Election Day polling locations for the District 3 seat.
District 3 is one of three at-large, or citywide, seats on the Kyle City Council dais. While only one polling site at Kyle City Hall was agreed upon at this time, city officials hope to possibly include more polling sites, which could increase the cost of the election.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said he is concerned about the amount of money being spent on the election, given that the $18,000 cost is about all the city had originally budgeted for this year’s elections. If a run-off occurs, the city could be spending double for a seat that will be vacated and up for election within a couple of months.
“The fact that we’re calling the election so late means that we’re not able to participate with any other jurisdictions,” Mitchell said. “The school board elections aren’t (city-affiliated) so we wouldn’t be able to participate anyway.”
City leaders clarified that although they will work to use the same or close-by polling locations as Hays CISD school board election voting sites, it is not possible to share a ballot, so citizens voting in both elections might have to make an extra effort to cast their vote.
Kyle’s election woes center on the abrupt verbal resignation of former city council member Shane Arabie during the Feb. 5 meeting.
Arabie’s term is valid until November, but the city charter states the city council is responsible for disciplinary actions against council members who have more than three consecutive absences, which would occur months before.
However, city council is not necessarily obligated to deliver such action. Mitchell said Feb. 19 he suggested leaving the District 3 seat unoccupied as a possible cost saving measure for the city, as well as for those who will run for election.
Arabie said he disagreed and promptly emailed his resignation in writing to the city.
“I was contacted by the Mayor on Monday, February the 11 (sic),” Arabie said in an emailed response. “Mitchell explained to me that he wanted me to withhold my letter of resignation so that he did not have to fill my seat until the November election. In my opinion this is unethical. I do not wish to see the district 3 seat remain open until the November election.”
Arabie, a former city council member of five years, gave his unofficial resignation Feb. 5 at the beginning of council’s regular meeting. Arabie verbally delivered his resignation and left quickly citing a change in his career and workload. However, he did not submit his formal written letter of resignation until Feb. 11.
Candidates have until March 4 to file for the May 4 election. Early voting begins April 22.
A potential run-off could take place in June with the winner possibly taking office in July.
Official polling locations have not been announced and will be determined by the Hays County Elections Office.