Texas Supreme Court denies appeal to call Tarrant water district election

03/21/2014 4:08 PM

03/21/2014 4:09 PM

The Texas Supreme Court Friday denied a request for the court to compel the Tarrant Regional Water District to call an election this May.

The denial of the writ filed by John Basham, Darla Lee Hobbs and Texans for Government Transparency was the latest legal attempt to get the water district to hold an election this year.

Basham, a three-time candidate for the water board, contended the water district violated the Texas Constitution when it pushed back its election from May 2014 to May 2015.

In February, state District Judge David Evans denied a request for a temporary injunction, which was appealed to the Texas 2nd Court of Appeals. and is still pending. Last month, the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth also denied a petition for writ of injunction and emergency relief asking the court to require the water district to call an election.

“We are pleased the Texas Supreme Court denied the request for an injunction, and agreed that state law directs that the next board election be held in 2015,” according to a statement released by the water district.

A spokeswoman for Basham’s attorney and for two potential water board candidates, said late Friday they had not received notice of a Supreme Court ruling and declined to comment further.

A similar federal lawsuit against the water district was filed by Fort Worth pastor Kyev Tatum, his brother, Archie and their wives Tonya and Hershey Ann, that also said the water district violated the Texas and U.S. constitutions by moving the election to May 2015.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor denied a motion for a preliminary injunction in February and dismissed the suit. O’Connor also said that board members Marty Leonard and Jim Lane could “continue to serve after the expiration of their terms until their successor is qualified.”

But O’Connor’s ruling appears to suggest, citing a section of the state Water Code, that the water district’s board will have to appoint two board members to serve until the May 2015 elections.

The Tatum lawsuit has been appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 31 in New Orleans.

In a statement earlier this month, Tatum’s attorney, Christopher Kratovil said: “The issue on appeal is how to fill those seats — either voters will get to elect or the old guard will be allowed to appoint the vacant seats.”

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