Many Brown County residents may find an unexpected ballot when they go to the polls Nov. 4 to vote for president and a host of other candidates in national, state and county races. Thatís a school board election.
House Bill 1 from last yearís legislature requires school districts to hold joint elections with either a city or county that shares jurisdiction. That has prompted several school systems to alter the terms of their trustees from three years to four, while also changing the month of elections from May to November.
School districts in Brown County which may be holding Nov. 4 elections include Brownwood, Brookesmith, May and Zephyr, and the deadline set by the state for filing for a place on the ballot in every district is 5 p.m. Tuesday.
If no contest develops in any election, the district is allowed to cancel the election and approve a resolution seating the unopposed candidates.
Suzy Young, Brown County elections administrator, told the Brownwood school board last year that voters in the election, if itís needed, would be handed a separate ballot from the general election ballot featuring contests for offices like president, governor, congressman or state representative. Because some county voting precincts hold as many as five portions of the Brownwood school districtís seven single-member districts, several different ballots would be available at the appropriate locations to accommodate voters.
Election judges will be trained to identify in which district school trustee voters are eligible to cast ballots to help minimize confusion.
However, the change could have the result of boosting participation in school district elections. Turnout for November elections featuring races like president and governor are typically the highest in the election cycle, and voters already at the polls for those elections may choose to participate in the local race.
A board of directors election is also scheduled Nov. 4 for the Brookesmith Special Utility District, county election officials said, but no information was immediately available Friday from the Brookesmith Water office.
Other school districts in the county have not been forced to change their traditional May elections in order to comply with the state law because municipal elections in their communities are timed in a way that corresponds to their schedules.
Under a plan adopted last October by the Brownwood Independent School District, trustees in single-member Districts 2 (Nesa Morelock), 4 (Eric Evans) and 5 (Michael Coppic) will be up for election this year. Trustees in Districts 1 (John Nickols), 3 (Roderick Jones), 6 (Dr. Justin Murphy) and 7 (Mark Bradshaw) will be up in 2010.
School administration officials said Morelock and Coppic have filed for new four-year terms, and that Evans had picked up materials in anticipation of filing.
The Brownwood school district found itself holding joint elections with the county because the City of Brownwood holds elections in two consecutive years, and then skips two years. That cycle developed after a charter amendment approved by voters extended the terms of the mayor and city council members from two to four years.
All four incumbents on the Brookesmith school board whose terms expire this year have filled for re-election. They are Terry C. Been, Bill Means, Brian Mackey and Wendy Harris. Billy Dougherty and D.M. Tibbitts have also filed for a place on the ballot.
In the May Independent School District, four board positions are up for election, school officials said. The full-term places up for election on Nov. 4 are held by Tony Wade, Joe Crume and Jeff Phillips. An unexpired term, currently held by Jeff Hoskinson, will also be on the ballot. That term will expire in 2010.
Phillips, Hoskinson and Katherine Lord have filed to be on the ballot for full terms. Crume has filled with the May ISD as a candidate for the unexpired term. Other candidates may file at the superintendentís office at 3400 County Road 411 East in May through Tuesday.
Four full four-year terms and one unexpired term are open this year on the Zephyr school board, and two incumbents - Ricky Simpson and Becky Cornelius - have filed for re-election. School officials said incumbent Kenny King has indicated he will be on the ballot as well. Trustees David Long and R.C. Owens have told school district officials that they will not seek new terms.