Engaging Democracy in Waco, TX

by: Debrah Wright

As Waco prepares for its municipal elections, attention turns to the candidates and the diverse issues they aim to tackle. The mayoral race, in particular, has garnered interest, with candidates offering varied approaches to address the city’s challenges and opportunities.

**Mark Your Calendars: Election Details**

The general election for the City of Waco Mayor and Council Members for Districts I and III is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, 2024. Early voting will be open from April 22 through April 30, 2024, providing flexibility for residents to participate. Following the election, those elected will be sworn in at a Special Meeting on May 14, 2024, at 6 p.m.

**Accessible Voting Locations and Times:**

McLennan County has designated multiple early voting sites, including the Records Building, community centers, and libraries, ensuring accessibility for all residents. The early voting schedule offers extended hours, accommodating diverse schedules and commitments. Below are the early voting locations and times:

– McLennan County Records Building: 214 N 4th Street, Suite 300

– Robinson Community Center: 106 W. Lyndale Avenue

– Waco Multi-Purpose Community Center: 1020 Elm Avenue

– West Waco Library: 5301 Bosque Blvd

– Hewitt City Hall: 200 Patriot Court

Early voting times are as follows:

– Monday, April 22 to Friday, April 26: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day

– Saturday, April 27: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

– Sunday, April 28: 1 to 6 p.m.

– Monday, April 29 to Tuesday, April 30: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day

The mayoral race features three candidates:

Three candidates are vying to become the next mayor of Waco, to be decided in May. Jim Holmes, the District 5 council member and mayor pro tem; Aubrey Robertson, an attorney and former Democratic candidate for McLennan County district attorney; and Eric Brown, a pastor and activist, have each filed for the seat. The winner of the May 4 election will succeed Dillon Meek.

**Jim Holmes:** Jim Holmes has served on the Waco City Council since 2016. With 35 years of financial management experience, including roles as COO/EVP of FirstCity Financial Corp & SVP of FNB of Central Texas, he brings a wealth of expertise. Currently, he serves as President of HOTCOG, Chairman of Waco MPO, & Board Director for Waco Sports Commission & Cameron Park Zoo. Jim is a graduate of Creighton University and attended Baylor School of Law. Bringing a background in public service, Holmes emphasizes infrastructure investment and economic development as key priorities for Waco’s future. (https://www.jimholmeswaco.org/)

**Aubrey Robertson:** Aubrey Robertson is an attorney with a background in Political Science and Slavic and Eastern European Studies. Transitioning from aspiring to draft constitutions for former Soviet countries to focusing on the criminal justice system, he gained experience in mock trials and criminal law clinics. Aubrey’s extensive experience includes pro bono work, internships, and roles as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Currently serving as the District Court Felony Chief at the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C., he prioritizes keeping clients informed and confident throughout legal proceedings. With a focus on economic revitalization and community empowerment, Robertson aims to foster small business growth and expand access to affordable housing, known for his stance on Public safety. (https://www.aubreyforda.com/)

**Eric Brown:** Eric Brown brings a dedication to public service and community advocacy. With a background in business administration, he focuses on economic development, education, affordable housing, public safety, environmental sustainability, and social equity. Eric aims to create a brighter future for all residents through innovative solutions and active listening to community voices. Advocating for grassroots initiatives and sustainable development, Brown prioritizes environmental stewardship, social equity, and inclusive governance. (https://www.ericforwaco.com/)

In addition to the mayoral race, other important contests include:

– Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees At-Large, Place 6: Keith Guillory and Lauren Caldwell offer their visions for the future of education in Waco.

– McLennan Central Appraisal District Board Member, Place 2: David R. Schleicher and Perry Felton vie for this position, focusing on fair property assessments.

– McLennan Central Appraisal District Board Member, Place 3: William “Bill” W. Vernon, Jr., Linda Hatchel, and Dennis DeGraff compete for this seat, each with their own ideas for effective property valuation practices.

**Get Involved: Exercise Your Right to Vote**

As the election approaches, it’s crucial for Waco residents to educate themselves on the candidates and their platforms. Whether casting their ballots during early voting or on Election Day, every vote counts in shaping the future of the city. For more information on voting locations and ballots, residents can visit mclennan.gov/elections and make their voices heard in this pivotal election.

City election filings as of Feb. 2

From the City of Waco

Five Waco’s have filed for the May 7 City Council election. Positions on the City of Waco ballot include City of Waco Mayor, Council District I and III. Also, the District II special election filing period began Feb. 2 and will differ from the general election filing. 

Listed below are the names of those who have filed as of 5 p.m. Feb. 2. 

Date Filed: 1/19/2022
Dillon Meek
3317 Castle Ave.
Waco, TX 76710
Phone: 361-782-8480
Occupation: Attorney 
District I
Date Filed: 1/25/2022
Andrea Jackson Barefield
2205 Lindsey Hollow Rd.
Waco, TX 76708
Phone: 254-307-9407
Occupation: Executive Director 
District II
Date Filed: 2/2/2022
Armando Arvizu
1705 Park Ave.
Waco, TX 76706
Phone: 254 413-3417
Occupation: Caregiver
District II
Date Filed: 2/2/2022
Tiffany Vidaña
3001 Mildred St.
Waco, TX 76706
Phone: 254 717-3987
Occupation: Substitute Teacher
District III
Date Filed: 1/19/2022
Josh Borderud
3115 Austin Ave.
Waco, TX 76710
Phone: 254 710-4244
Occupation: Attorney

The last day to file for the General Election is Friday, Feb. 18, at 5 p.m. The last day to file an application for the Special Election will be Monday, March 7, at 5 p.m. Applications should be filed with the city secretary at the City of Waco City Secretary’s Office, 300 Austin Ave., 1st floor of City Hall. Contact the City Secretary’s Office during normal business hours of Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 254-750-5750 to schedule an appointment. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Four file as candidates for City of Waco office

Four Waco residents filed for places on the City of Waco ballot in the May 7 general election. Positions on the ballot include mayor and council member for Districts I and III. Also, a special election will be included to select someone to fill an unexpired term for District II.

The following candidates filed by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19:

Mayor — Dillon Meek, attorney

District II — Armando Arvizu, caregiver, and Tiffany Vidaña, substitute teacher

District III — Josh Borderud, attorney

The last day to file is Friday, Feb. 18, at 5 p.m. to have the name of the candidate placed on the ballot, should be filed with the City Secretary in the City of Waco City Secretary’s Office, 300 Austin Ave., 1st Floor of City Hall.  Because City Hall is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, call the City Secretary’s Office during normal business hours of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 254-750-5750. 

Three candidates file to run for Waco ISD Board

By Alice Jauregui

Candiates for the Waco ISD School Board election began filing Wednesday, Jan. 19., the first day of the filing period for two district trustee positions. Filing will open Jan. 28 for an at-large WISD Board position.

Three candidates filed on the first day. Jonathan Grant and Hope Balfa Mustakim filed to represent Trustee District 4, and Emily Iazzetti filed in Trustee District 5.

On May 7, voters will elect one person in each of those districts to serve a three-year term on the Waco ISD Board of Trustees. The deadline for candidates to file for a place on the ballot is 5 p.m. Feb. 18.

District 4 is currently represented by Angela Tekell, who announced last month that she did not plan to seek re-election. Tekell was first elected to the board in 2010.

Iazzetti was appointed to represent District 5 in August following the resignation of Allen Sykes.

In May, voters will also elect someone to serve the final year of the current term for the vacant at-large seat on the Waco ISD school board. The vacancy was created when Cary DuPuy resigned in November. The following month, the school board announced they would leave the position vacant until the May election. The filing period for the at-large position will open Jan. 28 and end at 5 p.m. March 7.

More information about becoming a candidate is available at wacoisd.org/elections. Applications for a place on the ballot can be filed with the superintendent’s office at the Waco ISD Administration Building (501 Franklin Ave., Waco).

The Waco ISD Board of Trustees recently adjusted boundaries of the single-member trustee districts to equalize the number of people in each district following the 2020 Census. A map of the single-member trustee districts along with a description of those changes can be found at wacoisd.org/redistricting.

Alice Jauregui is executive director of communication with Waco ISD.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Constitutional amendment order decided for Nov. 2 Texas election

From the Texas Secretary of State’s Office

Deputy Secretary of State Joe Esparza drew the ballot order for eight proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. The proposed amendments were approved by at least two-thirds of the members of both the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.

Texans will have the opportunity to approve or reject the following amendments with a majority vote:

Proposition 1 (HJR 143)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.”

Proposition 2 (HJR 99)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.”

Proposition 3 (SJR 27)

“The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.”

Proposition 4 (SJR 47)

“The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.”

Proposition 5 (HJR 165)

“The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.”

Proposition 6 (SJR 19)

“The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.”

Proposition 7 (HJR 125)

“The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.”

Proposition 8 (SJR 35)

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.”

For more information and resources for voting in Texas, visit VoteTexas.gov.