There is a more than 50-50 chance that the city election will leave a vacancy on the Stephenville City Council.
Five people including Joe Cude, Nancy Hunter, Mark Murphy, Barry Ratliff and Pat Shelbourne are running for mayor. All of the candidates, with the exception of Cude, are current city council members. Ratliff, who currently holds Place 8, is the only mayoral candidate whose place was up for re-election. Instead of seeking another term in Place 8, Ratliff decided to run for mayor, which means that if Hunter, Murphy or Shelbourne is elected, a vacancy will be left on the council.
However, according to the Election Code and city secretary Cindy Stafford, there will be no special election immediately held to fill the spot. The Election Code states that in the event of a vacancy, an election will be held “as soon as practicable.” The Texas Secretary of State’s office advises that their interpretation of “as soon as practicable” would be on Nov. 4.
However, the mayor and council also have the option to appoint someone to the position rather than waiting for the special election. If the council opts to appoint someone, the person must be a U.S. citizen, resident of Texas for one year, resident of Stephenville for six months and a qualified voter.
Other than that, Stafford said there is no “set criteria” the council will have to abide by when making an appointment. They also have the option, Stafford said, of opening the selection process up to those interested in serving on the council.
The votes from the May 10 election will be canvassed on May 13, at which time the council members and mayor will be sworn in.