At this week’s city council meeting, Mission approved ordinance #4633 calling for a runoff election for the office of Mayor and City Council Place 4. The city council re-elected Norie Gonzalez Garza as Mayor Pro-Tem. Early voting will take place at Mission City Hall and Celestino Ramirez Fire Station No. 3 from May 29 through June 5, and election day will be June 9.
Some discussion was had about the locations available for people to vote on election day. Upon initial request by the city only three locations – Mission High School, Bryan Elementary and Ramirez Fire Station No. 3 – would be available to all residents in the city for voting on election day.
Council member Dr. Armando O’caña, one of the mayoral candidates, inquired about the places people can vote because in previous years, election day opened five locations where Mission residents were able to cast their ballots.
“We’re reducing it on the election from five to three,” O’caña said. “The people from South Mission are not going to have a voting place.”
City Secretary Anna Carrillo, the presenter for this item, said that in the last runoff election, approximately 100 people voted at the Castro Elementary and Pearson Elementary locations combined, so the city was not sure if opening them would be necessary for this year’s election.
O’caña then requested that early voting locations then be limited to just City Hall, instead of two places.
“So can we reduce the early voting to one site?” O’caña asked. “Instead of having two sites, just have one site, because anybody can come and vote in any precinct for early voting.”
Carrillo said that voters are accustomed to voting at the fire station, and that they were not planning on using Castro or Pearson because the schools will be closed.
Mayor Norberto Salinas, the incumbent, had stepped out of the meeting before the item was presented to the council.
It was decided that Castro Elementary would also be made available on election day, making it the fourth location where people can vote, along with Mission High School, Bryan Elementary School, and Celestino Fire Station No. 3. Early voting will still be held at the Mission City Hall and Celestino Ramirez Fire Station No. 3.
A conditional use permit was granted to Snowball Express at their Griffin Parkway location. Ordinance #4626 was adopted, allowing the business to be open until 10 p.m. for one year, after which the permit will be revisited.
After residents living near this location complained to the city about the noise level and hours of operation, it was discovered that the raspa stand was staying open until 2 a.m., while the permit only allowed for hours of operation until 10:30 p.m.
Elgin Xavier, the owner of Snowball Express, recently hired attorney Alex Moreno who spoke on his behalf. He said that Xavier is ready to comply with requests from Planning and Zoning like installing a fence behind the drive-thru.
“He had filled out an application for operating a snow cone stand, but he didn’t keep a copy of the application, he was not aware of the hours,” Moreno said. “As his business has been successful, he expanded the time, and he did not realize that he was in violation.”
Several employees and residents advocating for Snowball Express were present at the meeting, and spoke in favor of the stand staying open later than 10 p.m.
There were also three residents who live by the property, who have complained to council about the noise coming from the stand every night. They said they had nothing against the business, but their lack of compliance with the permit they signed was causing several health issues in their lives because they could not sleep.
At one point, the planning department showed a video clip of a line of cars around Snowball Express at 10:45 p.m. that stretched onto the road. Mayor Salinas asked if keeping the raspa stand open until 11 p.m. would be sufficient.
Councilwoman Jessica Ortega-Ochoa brought up that she had personally received five phone calls from residents complaining about the noise and hours of operation, and the Mayor stated that he had also gotten calls.
The ordinance was passed as written.
Due to Memorial Day, the next city council meeting will be held on Tues. May 29.