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Lawsuit filed in Dripping Springs candidate residency dispute

A dispute over the legitimacy of a city council candidate’s residency has led to a lawsuit filed by an incumbent Dripping Springs city leader.

Incumbent Place 5 council member Travis Crow is suing opponent Geoffery Tahuahua for alleged violation of the Texas Election Code. Crow filed litigation on the grounds that Tahuahua falsified his application for candidacy and is ineligible to run for office. 

According to the Texas Election Code, a resident on the ballot must reside at a home in the corporate city limits for six months prior to the filing deadline. Candidates running in the May 4 city council election had to file by Feb. 15; a candidate would have been required to be living in a home within the city limits as of Aug. 15.

According to a News-Dispatch report, Tahuahua listed his residency on his candidate filing in the Founders Ridge subdivision, which is within the city limits. However, Tahuahua’s voter registration lists his address in the Belterra subdivision, which is not in the city limits. According to a Central Appraisal District (CAD) search, Tahuahua’s Founder’s Ridge home was deeded to him on Sept. 14, 2018.

“Mr. Tahuahua was confronted with the issue prior to his change in voter registration and our position is that he engaged in evasive responses and did not answer questions,” said William Davis, an attorney representing Crow.

Davis cited an email chain between Tahuahua and Dripping Springs City Secretary Andrea Cunningham where the residency dispute was first discussed. 

Cunningham said in the email more information was needed “to verify residency status in the corporate city limits.”

Tahuahua said residency cannot be determined solely by looking at voter registration, affirming he is eligible to run based on his application. Tahuahua said he purchased his home in Founders Ridge in January 2018 and that he “received confirmation” of meeting legal requirements “long ago.” 

Tahuahua cited a section of the TEC, as well as case law, that defines residency to include a person acquiring a residence in a place that is not for temporary purposes and that they intend to make that a permanent home, the News-Dispatch reported. 

Tahuahua said it was “more than apparent” that he and his wife’s intent to reside in the city began when they purchased their Founders Ridge home. 

In an emailed statement, Tahuahua called the accusations as a distraction from the election, the News-Dispatch reported. 

“Public record shows he did not live in Dripping Springs until Sept. 14, 2018, at the absolute earliest, affirming he missed the Aug. 15 deadline to qualify,” Davis said. “Instead of withdrawing his application in a timely matter, he’s forced a lawsuit on the issue.” 

Tahuahua did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story. 

This story is developing. We will provide more information when it becomes available. 

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