Council Member Adam Bazaldua said he supports the Charter Review Commission’s discussions about holding Dallas municipal elections in November instead of May and possibly extending the term lengths of council members.
The Charter Review Commission began discussions in October about shifting Dallas municipal elections from May to November in an effort to increase voter turnout, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Commissioners also discussed how the change would impact the term lengths of council members.
In a recent interview with WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics, Bazaldua (District 7) said he favors potentially shifting municipal elections to November in odd-numbered years.
“I think that the move from May to November is absolutely something that would increase voter turnout,” Bazaldua said. However, he added that voter turnout across Texas “has to increase,” citing the recent mayoral election in Houston, which reportedly saw significantly low voter participation.
During the commission’s October meeting, however, Commissioner Miguel Solis questioned whether incentivizing higher voter turnout is an inherently worthwhile effort.
“The problem that we are attempting to solve is low voter turnout,” he said. “So we think more voter turnout in these elections is a good thing. Why?”
Bazaldua also suggested that City Council elections should be staggered, comparing the mayor and council members to a private corporation’s CEO and board of directors.
“I personally don’t like to see that at any given election cycle, our entire board of directors could be wiped away,” he said. “I think that a conversation about staggering our terms should be had to not put our city in any vulnerable states going forward.”
He claimed that the only “feasible way” to prevent partisanship from influencing Dallas elections would be to hold them during odd-numbered years.
“However, if we had staggered terms, I think that the odd-year could be a hard thing to accomplish,” he added.
Furthermore, Bazaldua said he supports discussions about changing the term lengths for council members. He claimed his constituents have “consistently voiced” that term limits should be longer.
“This doesn’t come as a shock to me,” he said. “… 70% of our job is land use. If we’re going through a zoning case that goes through extensive public input and comment, [then] there’s an expectation for that tangible result that all voters need to see.”
“It’s really hard within a two-year time period to have even been able to start and complete a project so that your constituents can hold you accountable,” he said.
As previously covered by The Dallas Express, the Charter Review Commission has been tasked with determining potential amendments to the Dallas City Charter. The commission comprises one member from each council district and a chair appointed by Mayor Eric Johnson.
“This charter review is a great opportunity for us to evaluate the efficiencies and inefficiencies in our government,” Bazaldua told WFAA.
The commission began reviewing the charter in September. Bazaldua said the commission has a full year to work through its recommended changes before presenting them to the City Council.
“At that time, we would have to make our final vote and issue [a] referendum to voters to make the last decision,” Bazaldua said.