Skip to content

What a November election would mean for Mission

Mission Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza supports moving the city’s future elections from May to November. But before the city can change the calendar, constituents have to approve it, and state legislators have to update the Texas Election Code.  

VOTER APPROVAL

In the upcoming May 4 election, Mission residents will have the opportunity to vote on a potential 22 propositions pertaining to the Mission city charter — propositions that a committee of community members has carefully deliberated for months. 

Among the propositions is an amendment that would change when, in the calendar year, Mission elects its city leaders. Currently, the mayor and council elections take place in May. But the amendment proposes moving all future regular elections to November. 

The proposed amendment, labeled Mission Proposition D on the ballot, reads: Shall Section 3.01.C of the city charter be amended to provide, to the extent permitted by law, that the regular municipal elections for the city of Mission to elect a mayor and, or member of city council shall be held during the November uniform election date?

Constituents will either select “for,” voting in favor of moving the election to November, or select “against.”

The Mission mayor suggested the amendment to the Charter Review Committee because she felt it would benefit Mission in two ways — improve voter turnout and be more cost-effective. 

“The November elections always have a better turnout. And I think when you have a better turnout, you have more residents speaking out and voicing their opinions with their votes,” Gonzalez Garza said. “And also it reduces the price of the actual election because it’s spread among everybody participating in the election.”  

November is when the federal, state and Hidalgo County governments hold elections, with presidential races usually garnering the most voter turnout, according to data from the United States Election Project. 

In recent years, voter turnout soared in Texas, according to the secretary of state. Similarly, it improved in the Rio Grande Valley, which historically has low election participation. But for Mission’s last mayoral race in May 2022, the Hidalgo County Elections Department reported only 7,595 ballots cast out of more than 44,000 registered voters; fewer voted in the runoff a few weeks later.  

But Councilmember Jessica Ortega is not convinced moving to a November election is the way to go. 

“I feel the community and my constituents are already used to having the election in May because they get the opportunity to vote for both school and city,” she said. “I understand that some may want the November election. But at this time, I need to see more research about it. But I don’t mind putting it out to the voters because, ultimately, they’re the ones that have the say.” 

City Secretary Anna Carrillo expressed that voter fatigue might be causing constituents to grow apathetic to politics, which is often a result of being required to vote too often. She reminded the Charter Election Committee that, this year alone, Mission residents have a potential four elections between February and June. With the presidential primary in March, the Mission election in May and potential runoffs for each, constituents have a lot of politics to follow. 

“If you look at our voting numbers, voter turnout is very low. And they’re saying that it’s voter fatigue,” Carrillo said. “They don’t go back [to the polls] because a lot of people go vote in March and then in May they say, ‘No I already voted.’ And it’s like, ‘No, you gotta vote again because it’s a different [election.]’ So that’s why everybody is trying to consolidate to one.” 

Although Ortega is not sure a November election would improve poll attendance, she said city leaders need to be better at engaging with residents, reminding them of the importance of exercising their power.

“Unfortunately, it’s 3,000 to 5,000 people in our population in the city of Mission that get to [make decisions] because that’s who comes out to vote,” the councilwoman said. “And I would really love it if this would make a huger impact on our community. Have our community say, ‘No, let’s shake ‘em up.’ You have a voice, you get to come and vote and decide whether you want these changes to happen. And it’s a big deal because you’re going to be changing history in the charter.” 

Along with potential improved poll attendance and a way to fend off voter fatigue, a November election would likely be less costly for Mission. Carrillo stated that a single election costs the city anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 because of expenditures like payroll, insurance, supplies, ballot services and more. 

When Mission holds an election, the city splits the cost with other municipalities or school districts in the county holding elections on the same day. But if the Mission moves elections to November, it would split the cost with Hidalgo County and other participating entities. 

However, even if Mission constituents approve the amendment, it has to go through the state before the city can officially proceed with the change. 

STATE LEGISLATURE 

The Texas Election Code has a provision that specifies when governing bodies can change their Election Day — section 41.0052. Mission City Attorney Victor Flores explained that state leaders periodically amend the section, allowing local governments to change the date they hold general elections. 

During the 2023 legislative session, state leaders amended the election code to allow Montague County and a few other governing entities to change their Election Day to November. But Mission was not eligible based on the criteria. Texas will have its next legislative session in 2025 — when state leaders can decide whether to amend the section again and reopen the window for changing general election dates.

Flores explained that because the city elections and the state sessions occur in opposite years, Mission had to time the charter amendments just right.  

“Because the charter can only be amended every two years, and because the legislature meets every other year, the city said, ‘Let’s put it to the voters,’” Flores explained. “And if they pass it, then we’ll change the election date once the legislature approves it so they won’t have to come back to the voters at that point. It’s already prepped for when the state authorizes it.” 

If the legislature updates the Texas Election Code, and Mission residents approve Proposition D, the soonest Mission would have a November city election is 2026. 

Mission plans to finalize the proposed charter amendments and order the May 4 special election at the Feb. 12 city council meeting.

Leave a Comment