Joining other cities and municipalities that have done so, the Agua Special Utility District board of directors voted to postpone their May election to November.
The decision, unanimously approved by the board Monday, April 6, comes at the recommendation of state and local officials to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Previously, the Agua board voted to seek alternatives to holding an election without the county’s help, but Agua SUD General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz told the board it would be impossible to do so.
“We were trying to maintain the May election but due to the situation of the at home shelter order and what’s happening across the state, it would not allow individuals to come out and vote,” Saenz said. “It would make it harder for us to run that election, it could easily be contested so we decided to comply with the order.”
In the last few weeks, the city of Mission and the Sharyland and Mission school districts also postponed their May elections to November after the Hidalgo County Elections Department announced they will not conduct May elections to any political subdivisions in accordance with Governor Gregg Abbott’s disaster declaration. This was coupled with a Declaration of Local Disaster Due to Public Health Emergency made by Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez that prohibits any gathering of 10 or more people.
The May election would’ve been Agua SUD’s first election under its recently implemented single member system.
The districts up for election are districts 1, 2 and 3 which are overseen by Esequiel “Zeke” Ortiz, Homer Tijerina and Franco Lopez, respectively. Lopez, cousin of Peñitas Mayor Rodrigo “Rigo” Lopez, was sworn into office in January after former director Rogelio Hernandez III stepped down to serve in the La Joya City Council.
The single member district went into effect at the end of the 2019 calendar year after state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2552, which replaced the city and county-based seats with single-member districts and required each member of the board to represent a sub-district containing “one-seventh of the total number of residents in the district.”
Ortiz, Tijerina and Lopez will face business owner Maribel Diaz, educator Adolfo Mendez and business owner Esmeralda Solis, respectively.
With the delay in the election, that means the winning candidates will have a shortened term, Saenz said.
“Based on the direction of this situation, whoever gets elected in November will only have their term for three 1/2 years instead of four since our general elections are in May,” Saenz said. “We’re going by the secretary of state’s direction that whoever submitted an application and filed for candidacy for the May election, those are the ones eligible to run in November. It doesn’t extend the application deadline.”