The Fort Worth City Council must move fast to call a May 10 special election for the District 9 seat being vacated by Joel Burns.
Potential candidates already face a shortened campaign period, precious time for selling themselves and their ideas to the district’s residents.
In other cities and school districts holding May 10 votes for elected positions, candidate filing started Jan. 29 and ends Feb. 28. That gives candidates a solid 70 days of campaign time before the election, 58 days before the start of early voting.
If the Fort Worth council votes next week to call the special election, by state law the filing period will run through March 10, leaving 60 days until the election but just 48 days until early voting begins.
Any delay past March 1 in calling the election pushes the filing deadline back to March 26, leaving only an extremely short campaign window.
Cynics might say the less time they have to put up with campaign signs, calls and candidates knocking on their doors, the better. But the election process is best served when voters have adequate time to study the candidates and test them on their ideas.
District 9 covers a broad part of the city from Interstate 20 and Interstate 35W on the south, through the near south and west sides, to downtown and near-northeast areas.
Burns is leaving for a good reason. He’s been invited into a prestigious program at the Harvard Kennedy School, one of the best places in the world to study public policy. The Mid-Career Master in Public Administration program is designed for people like Burns who want to enhance their public service careers.
It’s a rigorous program. Burns might look back fondly on his comparatively light-duty hours reading city background material and working through late-night council meetings, spiced by daily meetings with sometimes-angry constituents.
For six years, Burns has held his own in council discussions and even arguments while maintaining a pleasant approach and not developing the hard edge of some elected officials. That’s much to his credit.
The council probably won’t get another one like him, but it is time to call the election and get on with it.