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Early voting begins at 7 a.m. Saturday

May 13, 2011

Polls are set to open Saturday at 7 a.m. in this year's municipal election, which includes two seats on the Big Spring City Council and the fate of a proposed charter amendment that would place term limits on the mayor and council members.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Dorothy Garrett Coliseum, according to Howard County Elections Administrator Saundra Bloom.

“All registered voters living within the city limits can vote in the charter amendment election,” Bloom said. “In the District 1 and District 3 races, only voters living within those districts will be able to cast a ballot. The turnout for early voting was a bit higher than we had initially expected, so we're hoping Saturday will be a strong day at the polls.”

The proposed term limits have become a hot topic in the Crossroads area during the past several months, as the charter amendment — which was spawned by a local petition — will either be approved or rejected by voters.

The amendment would prevent council members from running for re-election after serving two consecutive terms, according to City Attorney Linda Sjogren.

“If the proposed charter amendment passes... the net effect is that council members may only run for two consecutive terms in one position then must sit out one election before running again for that same position,” said Sjogren.

“Council members may run for any other position than the one they currently hold if their term is expiring or if they are within the last year of their term, without sitting out a term. Council members cannot be elected to fill a vacancy (unexpired term) in any position on the council within six years of having served in any position on the council.”

Bloom said she believes the proposed term limits are what is driving the election.

“It's become a really hot topic and all the voters — not just some — can vote on the proposition,” Bloom said.
Some local residents have embraced the idea of term limits in hopes of ousting “career politicians” sitting on the city council. Others, however, have shown sharp opposition to the measure, saying it is a violation of voters' rights to say who can and can not be elected based on arbitrary term limitations.

Voters are also being asked to decide the fates of the District 1 and District 3 seats on the city council.

District 1 Councilwoman Stephanie Horton is defending her seat on the council from challenger Marcus Fernandez, while the race for the District 3 seat has drawn three challengers, as incumbent Councilwoman Joann Staulcup faces challengers Shannon Thomason, Glen Carrigan and write-in candidate Oscar Velasco.

In an area race, Coahoma Independent School District will be holding its elections at the Coahoma Community Center. Gerald King and Craig Ferguson are seeking to fill a two-year unexpired term on the school board. Patric Robinson and Lori Martinez are running for a full, three-year vacant board member seat.

In Stanton, Justin Burch and Mark Sundey are seeking a city council at-large seat. The election will take place at the Martin County Election Center.

Voters should be sure to bring their voter registration card or picture ID to be able to vote.

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