State law silences mayor’s vote on issues

I have an answer to a question I posed in an earlier blog regarding the Princeton, Texas, mayor’s inability to vote on routine issues that come before the City Council.

It’s the law that prevents him from casting votes.

Princeton does not have a home-rule charter. Texas “general law” dictates how the city can govern itself.

It’s not as if the city hasn’t sought to approve a charter. It has gone through four municipal elections to adopt a home-rule document, but voters have rejected it. The issues are complex and, to my mind, misguided. Opponents hold up annexation as a major impediment to home rule, neglecting of course to recognize that the Texas Legislature made it impossible for cities to annex land without property owners’ approval.

The Princeton mayor can vote only to break a tie on the council. For that to happen one of the five council members would have to be absent from a meeting, leaving the council with just four members … excluding the mayor.

All that is left for the mayor to do is, well, just run the meeting. The mayor recognizes council members who choose to speak and calls for the vote.

If I were king of the world — or in charge of matters in the city where my wife and I live — I would recruit a new home rule charter commission and charge them with the task of drafting a new charter.

Then the city should put it up for a vote and then, with the help of residents who can see through the demagoguery that shot down previous efforts, it would be able to have full autonomy to run the city as it sees fit.

Princeton’s mayor needs the ability to cast votes along with his City Council colleagues.

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