This election has broad implications for Texas, regardless of the outcomes. With almost all of the statewide races expected to turn over due to the state’s governor stepping down after 12 years in that office, all of the statewide offices had incumbents and new candidates vying to move up the chain. But some cities also have races and other measures on their ballots that will dramatically change things.
Austin, is moving from a 7 member council (including the mayor) with all members elected at large to a 10 member council with members elected within a geographical district and a mayor elected at large. This means the entire governing body of the City of Austin will be changing after today and their voters are facing a slate of 78 candidates on their ballot.
Update on Denton Fracking Ban measure -in yesterday’s election the ban passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote. The ban’s passage will almost certainly trigger litigation, with energy companies and royalty owners arguing that state drilling regulations trump Denton’s rights and that the city was confiscating mineral rights, which have long been dominant in Texas law.
Just as important is a measure on the Denton ballot. In 2010, Denton citizens got the city to adopt an ordinance that required a minimum of 1,000 feet between a gas well and schools, homes, churches, parks and other “protected” land uses, but just before passing the ordinance, the council added an amendment that allows new homes to be built within 250 feet of land platted for drilling, where companies can re-drill and re-frack existing wells. Since the passage of the ordinance, Denton residents realized that increasing setback requirements wouldn’t be enough and started collecting signatures to force the City Council to vote on a fracking ban which then got kicked to the voters. The referendum required 596 signatures from registered voters—or one-quarter of the number of people who voted in the last local election, nearly 2,000 verified signatures were collected a full month before the deadline. If this measure passes today, Denton will be the first city in Texas to ban fracking. This ballot measure will not only have major implications for the city of Denton is poised to have ripple effects throughout Texas and beyond the state’s borders. This is one to watch.