County begins staffing elections commission

The Hays County Commissioners Court approved some appointments to its Community Elections Commission Tuesday and laid out a roadmap for others to be brought on board.

The votes came months after the idea of the commission was initially launched. In an effort to achieve diversity, the commission will include individuals to represent municipalities, school districts, the League of Women Voters, political parties and Texas State University as well as representatives of rural areas and the disabled.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Gary Jones nominated Sandra Tenorio, a former mayor of both Kyle and Buda, to be the representative for rural areas. Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe nominated Sam Tobar to represent the disabled, nothing that Tobar is also a veteran.
County Judge Ruben Becerra nominated Arthur Taylor and Linda Tenorio as his two picks.
Others are expected to be named later.

Broadly, the commission, which is expected to hold its first meeting in late November or early December, will contain one representative from each of the county’s four school districts (Hays, San Marcos, Dripping Springs and Wimberley) one from each of the county’s municipalities (San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Dripping Springs, Wimberley, Mountain City, Uhland Hays City, Niederwald and Woodcreek), one each nominated by the Democratic and Republican parties, one each from Texas State Democrats and Republicans and one nominated by the League of Women Voters. Each commissioner also gets to appoint two representatives, and Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson will act as technical advisor to the group. No elected officials will be included.

Pct. 4 Commissioner Walt Smith floated the idea of imposing a two-year term limit on commission members, after which they could be reappointed by the court. He also said members should be made aware that “there’s an expectation that you’re going to do this for at least a year or at least two years. I don’t want to be appointing someone each year.”

Among other duties, the commission would designate Voting Centers and determine if the initial locations to be used in the Nov. 5 election are worth staffing in the future. As part of a discussion of when the group would meet, Anderson noted that a meeting in late November or early December would allow members to gauge the what voting centers were used more heavily than others, data that will be useful in future elections. They would meet again after elections in May of 2020.

Though the mood of the court seemed to be to get the commission staffed quickly, it was also discussed that municipalities may not have yet made their decisions on appointments.
Smith proposed asking municipalities, school districts and others to have their nominees in by Nov. 15 so the court can finalize everything during their scheduled meeting Nov. 19.
“I’d like to get them all face to face sooner rather than later,” Becerra said.

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