Two hours after County Judge David Blackburn issued a “stay at home” directive, Village of Salado aldermen voted to defeat a motion by alderman Frank Coachman to move the Village election from May 2 to November 3. The motion received a second from John Cole following a brief discussion of the ramifications of moving the election from the May uniform election date to the November uniform election date. Across town, Salado ISD Trustees voted unanimously to move the election to November 3.
Village administrator Don Ferguson informed the board that last week Governor Greg Abbott authorized local governing bodies to move their elections from May to December. Further, he moved the May primary run off elections statewide to June.
If the village moved the election date to November, it would contract with Bell County Elections department to conduct the election. “There will be no rental costs, no paying for election clerks,” Ferguson said, adding that the Village’s only costs would be the ballot cost.
He added that if the election were moved to November that the ballot positions would remain the same.
If the local election were to move, Village of Salado voters could actually cast ballots at any of the five early voting locations during early voting and at any of the 41 voting locations on Election Day.
“This next week is expected to be the worst week to-date of the virus,” Ferguson said. “As there are more tests, there are going to be more positive results.”
It is likely that the Candidate Forum will be canceled because it will not be considered an essential service under the County orders.
“My concern is for those over 65,” alderman John Cole said. “That they will not go to the polls because they will be afraid to go out.”
Alderman Michael Coggin said that he had received numerous emails and texts, all in favor of holding the election in May. “One person said they would go through a blizzard to vote in May,” he said.
Alderman Amber Preston Dankert posed a question to Mayor Skip Blancett and aldermen Frank Coachman and Michael Coggin, both of whom are running for Mayor: “Will you stay in your position until the November election, shy of having a medical emergency.”
“I don’t know that I need to answer that question to you Amber,” alderman Coachman said. “Why are you asking this question? After your comment the other night, I don’t think I owe you an answer.”
Coggin said that he would remain in his position as Alderman until the election is held in November, if it is moved.
Mayor Blancett said “I have spent six years in this position, what’s another six months? In fact, I would welcome it so that I can see some things that we started come to fruition.”
Coggin asked Ferguson if the board could wait until closer to April 20 to move the election to November. “Yes, you can wait,” Ferguson said.
However, the deadline to print ballots for the May election is this week, which is why several other local entities are meeting this week to consider moving their election dates to November.
At the same time that aldermen were discussing moving the election, Salado ISD Trustees voted unanimously to move their election to November. Superintendent MIchael Novotny came to the aldermen meeting tonight in time to tell them that the School District, with whom the Village would partner in May, moved its election to November.
With the 2-3 vote on moving the election to November, the Village will have to bear all of the costs of conducting the election. Voting in favor of moving were Coachman and Cole. Voting against were Rodney Bell, Coggin and Amber Preston-Dankert, who telephoned into the meeting.