Lakeway resident Thomas Kilgore filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court Aug. 15, naming the city of Lakeway and all City Council members, in their official capacity, as defendants.
Kilgore claims the City Council amended the city’s home-rule charter, which was approved by voters in 1990, without first gaining approval from the qualified voters.
He claims the city and City Council members decided to forgo the constitutionally required process and instead effectively amended the charter through a city ordinance and council action. Kilgore claims that the city’s actions denied his ability to decide the type of voting system the city will use in future elections and deprives him of his right to vote for all council member positions in direct violation of the Texas Constitution and state law.
The pleading asks the court to conduct the city’s November election using majority voting and elect seat winners to three-year terms “in accordance with the [city] charter and the Texas Constitution.
“If the city says they don’t have the availability in terms of timing to change to a place system [instead of an at-large system] and elect council members to three-year terms, we will be asking for the court to move [the election] to May of 2019 and conduct it using majority vote and three-year terms,” said Kilgore’s attorney, Kevin Terrazas.
In April, the Lakeway City Council voted to suspend the city’s 2014 charter amendment, reverting back to an election system with two-year City Council terms and a plurality vote in which the highest vote getter wins the seat. The city’s 2014 amendment changed the election process to three-year terms and a majority vote, meaning a candidate must win a seat by 50 percent of the vote plus one vote.
Terrazas said his client “is losing his right to vote” by not being able to vote on the charter amendment that City Council altered in April.
“What the City Council is doing is they are amending the charter unilaterally,” he said.
“Elections are the bedrock of our democracy,” said Tiffany McMillan, who along with Jean Hennagin lost to Sandy Cox in the May 5 mayoral election. “Voters go to the polls with an expectation their vote counts. Lakeway has been running illegal elections for years, and its time for that to change. Lakeway residents deserve fair and honest elections.”
City Manager Steve Jones confirmed staff has been served with the pleadings and intends to file an answer.
Leslee Bassman contributed to this story.