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Mission orders May charter election

When Missionites take to the polls this spring to vote for two city council seats, they will also have the opportunity to vote to amend their city charter.

City leaders and a review committee of community members worked for months to draft a new city charter, which they presented to Mission City Council in a series of workshops and meetings. The committee finalized the proposed amendments before the Feb. 12 council meeting, where the elected officials approved the ballot language and ordered the May 4 charter election. 

Since the Jan. 22 meeting, where the charter election was first presented as a public hearing item, the committee added two propositions to the ballot: 

  • Proposition J, which relates to removing the requirement that the city publish the semiannual simplified financial report in the local newspaper
  • Proposition Q, which removes the city council’s authority to combine the Mission Police Department and Mission Fire Department into one department

Although there are almost 40 proposed amendments to the city charter, the ballot consists of only 24 propositions from A to X. The city combined some of the proposed amendments into single propositions because the changes are the same in nature. For example, many amendments clarify grammar and delete outdated practices from the city constitution. 

However, the ballot has a handful of more significant proposals, including adding mayoral term limits, removing the requirement that judges live in Mission city limits and adjusting how the city can publish ordinances. Two other notable propositions consist of adding requirements for mayor and council candidates running for election and changing how Mission fills vacancies on the council if an elected official serves less than 12 months of their term. 

Once the May election is over, the city must wait two years before they can vote on the charter again, as required by state law. City Attorney Victor Flores said a city typically should update the charter every 10 years. Mission has not fully updated its constitution since 1987. 

Councilwoman Jessica Ortega thanked the Charter Review Committee for dissecting the city documents. But she said it is up to the council members to educate the community on propositions for which they’ll vote. 

“I feel like sometimes all of us here have to work on getting people from our community to actually go out and vote. There’s maybe…40,000 registered [voters] and it’s a shame that only about [3,000] came out for the [December] special election and in ours about 6,000 or 7,000. So we have to consider that only about 4,000 are going to vote for this,” Ortega said. “And so we need to do our part in educating our community members. This affects all of us in the community.”

Between now and the election, Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza and Ortega suggested hosting something similar to town hall meetings to discuss the charter and talk to the public about the ballot items.

“If people have questions, we could address them at that time,” the mayor said. “And that would be a good way to educate.” 

Early voting runs April 22-27 and April 29-30. The polling locations are Mission Parks and Recreation and the Mission Boys and Girls Club at Bannworth Park, open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day is May 4. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Mission Parks and Recreation, Mission Boys and Girls Club and Mission High School Neuhaus Gym.

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