San Benito residents may decide whether district changes voting schedule

SAN BENITO — The San Benito School Board wants the folks to weigh in.

Earlier this week, school board officials discussed at length whether to move the district’s Election Day from May to November.

In the end, they voted to table the action. But that didn’t stop them from discussing what they wanted to do.

Several options were weighed, but all agreed that a decision regarding an election would be better left up to the people in the community – the voters.

The school district doesn’t have an election this May. But it does have one in 2017.

As it stands now, elections are held in May to fill the school board member positions, which are on a three-year rotating basis.

Board member Hector Leal was first to express his concerns.

“It has more cons than pros,” he said.

There were two concerns Leal expressed. One was the fact that once the date is changed, it can never be changed back again, according to a ruling by the Texas state attorney general.

Two, Leal expressed the need for feedback from the community to determine the impact.

Leal suggested putting the decision to a vote. However, in order to make that happen, the option would have to be added to the ballot by December.

Board member Angel Mendez, who put the item on the agenda, said there were several indicators why he thought they should change the date.

“The sharing cost would be reduced because more elections will be run at that time. The cost of renting equipment and organizing wouldn’t cost us much. The numbers of people voting tends to increase in November,” Mendez said.

Moving the election to November, Mendez said, would give people more time to reflect on their position.

Instead of putting it to a vote, trustees also discussed issuing a survey to the public.

The topic of a survey was met with more enthusiasm than putting the decision to a vote.

As a political science teacher, board secretary Michael Vargas said it would be a disservice to the public if they didn’t get a voice in the decision.

“We are a democratic society and when we have a group of individuals, like a council, who influence the way elections are held, to me is a disservice to our community and students, even to the idea of government,” he said.

Since the community voted for the board, they agreed to let the community have its say.

Four school board trustees’ terms will expire in 2017.

A change would mean their election would be in November instead of May, adding five months to their terms.

They are Arnold Padilla in place 4, Leal in place 5, Medrano in place 6 and Angel Mendez in place 7.

The other terms expire in 2018.

Before tabling the decision, the board decided they would conduct research and come back at a later date with more information.

“The last thing I want is for anyone to think we’re making decisions to strengthen political agendas or ties,” said board member Arnold Padilla. “That’s something I don’t like.”

Adding, “We have a lot of homework to do.”