Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pct. 3 GOP candidate meets residency issue head-on

Will Jones' eligibility quizzed on new lines

GOP attorneys call it “ridiculous.”

Will Jones, a candidate for McLennan County Commissioners' Court, is concerned.

Long-time residents of the area, which takes in the enclave Bohemian farming community of West, are angry.

Knowledgeable observers of the Six Shooter Junction political scene chalk it up to conventional wisdom. It's simple enough. A candidate who lives inside Loop 340 can always swing an election to the Commissioners' Court.

Like the banks famed depression-era bandit Willie Sutton robbed because “That's where the money is,” it is a well-known fact to one and all - that's where the votes are.

McLennan County's Commissioners' Court precinct boundaries changed ever so slightly following the 2010 census. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 demands a reapportionment of voting districts along racial lines.

But long-time rural residents of Precinct 3 see dollar signs.

The Court moved the boundary for Precinct 3, and it put Will Jones's home on Hillcrest Dr. near the pricey Lakeshore Dr. Windmill Hill community, just inside the new Precinct 3 boundaries.

But Mr. Jones, who was an unsuccessful candidate for Republican County Chairman in 2010, and his lawyers, are not terribly concerned.

An opponent is out thumping the tubs, beating his breast, stirring the dust, he said.

“Please let me know if he has anything to say about me...
I was referring to a man named Jimmy Muhl. Not sure he is much to worry about, but I have heard he is calling me a liar and that I don't live in PCT 3...”

The Legendary has not heard from Mr. Muhl.

Though it's probably not anything that would cross the Rabbi's eyes, the question at hand is simple enough, and it's a good one.

The Texas Election Code calls for a candidate to have resided in the state for the previous 12 months and in “the territory from which the office is elected for six months” preceding the filing date for the office.

How do you interpret that?

Does it mean the district or precinct as it was delineated for six months previous to the date they drew the new boundaries, or just where a candidate lived – period.

Though angry voices are calling for a confrontation on the issue, cooler heads have cracked the books.

An unnamed attorney offered this anonymous interpretation in advising Mr. Jones to stick to his guns.

“I think they’re completely full of crap. 141.001(a)(5) requires the candidate to live “in the territory from which the office is elected” for at least six months prior to certain dates. It does not say the candidate must live in the “territory from which the office was elected under the prior precinct map” for at least six months. In other words, the statute uses the word "territory" to designate the geographic area the candidate will represent if elected to office (i.e., the new map). There isn’t much case law interpreting this statute, but attached is an unpublished opinion from the Houston Court of Appeals that supports my argument.

“To interpret the statute to mean that people in new parts of Precinct 3 are ineligible would be ridiculous, and probably violate both the state and federal Constitutions. Think about the ways we could gerrymander precinct maps to protect incumbents in such a situation. We could simply redraw the maps so that only the incumbent’s neighborhood remained in the precinct, effectively eliminating all potential opposition.

“Further, Section 143.005(d) uses the same language when discussing city elections, and appears to be consistent with my interpretation.

“Section 141.002 only bolsters the point. It loosens the requirements so that the candidate in a primary need only reside in “the territory” on the filing deadline, as long as they have resided in the county for at least six months.”

Said Mr. Jones, “I have lived on Hillcrest Drive for 9 years.”

A multi-millionaire who suddenly got rich on a winning lotto ticket, he put himself through Baylor University, obtained a business degree, and manages his wealth full-time.

The case to which the attorney referred is Arnett v. City of Houston, a November, 1989, dust-up the 14th District Court of Appeals washed their hands upon when they refused to issue a writ requiring city officials to put a candidate on the ballot by holding they had not failed to perform a legal duty.

And the floggings will continue until morale improves.

- The Legendary

1 comment:

  1. Let me understand this. Jimmy Muhl works for Joe Mashek and allegedly called Will Jones a liar. Joe Mashek assistant is listed as a Jones endorser. Guess Muhl is prepared to use his mechanic skills for someone else besides the county if he doesn't win the Precint 3 commissioner race, if not sooner.