DISD Board Won't Be Changing Its Election Cycle or Term Limits After All. For Now.

You probably noticed: It's been quite the last few days for the Dallas Independent School District's board of trustees, what with the board president Lew Blackburn being compared to Idi Amin by a speaker at the last boarding meeting, and trustee Carla Ranger resigning and then, a few days later, un-resigning.

Let's just say then, for the sake of hilarious understatement, that the drama over redistricting seems likely to continue. But last night's meeting, which the board convened to decide whether its legally obligated to change election cycles or term limits, was actually pretty calm. The meeting was called late Friday to figure out if the board was bound by law to move their elections, as the newly passed Senate Bills 100 and Senate 729 might seem to indicate.

Attorneys Sydney Falk and Steven Weller, both from Big Deal Austin-Based Electoral Law Firm Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta  gave the board a few options, including keeping the elections in May of each year, changing the elections from May to November of odd-numbered years, or changing the elections to November of even-numbered years, which would necessitate extending the trustees' terms to four years.

Part of the issue was that the board isn't sure yet which other county and state bodies will have to change their own election cycles, and they need to be paired with another election. And changing to four-year cycles would necessitate holding special elections every year until 2015, which probably be "messy and confusing," as trustee Eric Cowan noted (though he was willing to do it, he said, if it was "better in the long, long-term").

Faced with this plethora of exciting options, then, the board decided not to do anything right now. Especially after the lawyers assured them that they wouldn't end up in jail for inadvertently choosing an option that turns out not to be in compliance with the law. "That would be unusual," Falk told them.

Well, then! That settled that. The board voted unanimously to continue with May elections each year and was out of the room just 38 minutes after the meeting was called to order. This term limit thing seems to come up every couple years, though, so odds are we haven't heard the last of it.

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan