Leaders mull asking voters to move elections

Proposal would push city referendums to November

HARLINGEN — The city’s May elections might be moving to November as part of a plan to draw more voters to the polls.

Wednesday the city commission is set to consider Commissioners Richard Uribe’s and Frank Puente’s proposal calling on commissioners to pass an ordinance allowing voters to decide if they want to push the city’s May elections to November, when they’d run along with national elections.

“The intent here is for more (voter) participation,” Puente said Tuesday.

The move to push the city’s elections to run alongside the nation’s general elections would draw higher numbers of voters to the polls, he said.

“The voter turnout is much higher, which is better for the community — there’s so much apathy,” Puente said.

The move could also help cut the city’s cost of running its elections, he said, adding officials could use Cameron County’s voting machines.

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners will consider passing an ordinance calling for a proposition on the May 7 election ballot allowing voters to amend the City Charter, moving elections to the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, when they would run alongside general elections.

The move would become effective in November 2024, city spokeswoman Irma Garza said.

Candidates crowding May election ballot

If commissioners pass the proposed ordinance, the city would tack the proposition onto what’s being described as the hottest election here in more than 20 years.

In the election, three seats are up for grabs, including Puente’s, Uribe’s and Mayor Chris Boswell’s.

On Tuesday, Puente said he’s running for a second term while Boswell said last month he plans to seek a sixth term in office.

Uribe, who didn’t respond to a message requesting comment Tuesday, has said he plans to run for a third term, Puente said.

Meanwhile, attorney Norma Sepulveda announced plans last month to run against Boswell to become the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor.

Term limits, board appointments propositions

The ballot also calls on voters to decide if they want to set term limits that would cap the mayor’s and commissioners’ tenures at four, three-year terms.

Passage of the proposition, whose term limits would become effective in 2024, would not count incumbents’ current terms against them if they chose to run for re-election.

The ballot also includes a proposition calling on voters to decide if they want to amend the City Charter to change the way appointments are made to the airport board.

For about 15 years, the charter has given the mayor sole authority to appoint the nine-member board.

Now, the commission’s new majority wants voters to decide whether they want to allow commissioners, along with the mayor, to appoint members to the prominent board.

In the election, the ballot will call on voters to decide if they want a seven-member airport board, with commissioners appointing five members while the mayor would appoint two.