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Dallas charter commission bats down possible change from May to November election

An amendment that would have changed local elections from May to November of odd-numbered years failed to get past the Dallas Charter Review Commission.

The Dallas Charter Review Commission voted to bat down a number of amendments that would have drastically changd how city government works. Those amendments included switching municipal elections from May to November, abolishing the positions of mayor pro tem and deputy mayor pro tem — and changing council member term lengths.

The decision comes after hours of debate from commissioners about the issues — the biggest of which seemed to be changing elections to November.

District 1 Commissioner David de la Fuente has pushed for a change to elections in November of odd-numbered years. That would have been instead of May elections currently held in the city.

De la Fuente said during a meeting late last year that more voter turnout was the biggest reason why he had introduced an amendment to switch the election times.

“Dallas municipal [election] turnout is among the lowest in the country,” De la Fuente said at a late October commission meeting. “Nothing that we have tried on engagement with individuals, through encouraging people to participate in the current system has had a meaningful impact on increasing voter turnout in our city.”

But that amendment failed to pass the commission’s vote. Adam McGough represents District 12 on the council. He said switching the timing of the election isn’t the remedy to fix voter turnout.

“I am appalled by voter turnout, in May and November,” McGough said during the meeting. “Going to November is not going to solve the problems. There’s apathy that’s the issue.”

At first the commission grouped together other amendments that considered changing the election date — including to November of even-numbered years, odd-numbered years and to leave it the way it is now.

“I vehemently oppose moving our council elections to even numbered years in November,” District 14 Commissioner Angela Hunt said during the meeting. “Having served on the council I can tell you it is immensely important to the health of our council for our elections to be non-partisan.”

But commissioners decided that De la Fuente’s amendment deserved a sperate vote — which ultimately failed in a 6 to 9 vote.

Months after Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s reelection last year, he announced his switch to the Republican Party. That’s after serving in the Texas legislature as Democrat.

During Tuesday’s meeting and in previous briefings, De la Fuente has laid out his reasonings for why a November of odd-numbered years election is most beneficial for Dallas.

Those reasons include a higher voter turnout, reduced costs to the city and diverting partisanship that could arise during a November of even-numbered years — when voters are usually asked to decide the next president of the United States.

“I think it’s really hard to convince the beneficiaries of a broken system to do something to fix a broken system," De la Fuente told KERA.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

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Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.