Edinburg attorney weighs in on election decision

EDINBURG — The city attorney here recently shed light on how exactly municipal voters will choose the Place 3 winner after candidates said they weren’t sure how the process would unfold.

There are four people running for the seat that Edinburg Councilman Homer Jasso Jr. will vacate — Deanna “Coach” Dominguez, Juan “Johnny” Garcia, Carlos Jasso and Marc Roque — and at least two of them said during early voting that they didn’t know if the winner would be selected by plurality or majority vote. A plurality vote gives the candidate with the most votes the win.

A majority vote, on the other hand, requires a candidate to receive more than 50% of the vote to clinch the win. Edinburg City Attorney Omar Ochoa said the race will be decided via a majority vote on Tuesday, which will likely send the top two vote-getters into a runoff race.

Back in 1996, the city charter was amended to include a provision that called for a plurality vote, but that language is now at odds with state law, Ochoa said.

“The charter does say plurality decision, but that provision is trumped by the Texas constitution,” he said, citing Article XI, section 11b.

That provision basically says that if a municipality has terms of office of more than two years, a majority vote is required, Ochoa said. “This analysis was originally done in 2017 by the previous city attorney,” he said. “And I agree with that.”

Ochoa didn’t mention the name of the attorney, but for much of 2017, Rick Palacios served as the city’s legal counsel. Edinburg also conferred with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, which agreed with the interpretation, Ochoa added.