On the ballot: issues for upcoming elections

On the ballot: issues for upcoming elections

On the ballot: issues for upcoming elections
October 22
23:36 2014

Dalton LaFerney / Senior Staff Writer

Early voting began on Monday and will run until Oct. 31 before the Nov. 4 general election. Voter registration deadlines have already passed, and about 14 million Texans are registered to vote, according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Those in Denton will not only vote on political leaders, but special city propositions such as the hydraulic fracturing ban, liquor sales and several construction propositions.

Texas voters must present a valid ID in order to vote, required by a controversial Texas law that the Supreme Court recently approved. Acceptable forms of ID include a Texas driver’s license, personal ID card, birth certificate or U.S. passport.

“Based on my observations in registering voters, I think there will be a percentage of Hispanics that won’t be able to vote,” League of United Latin American Citizens president Alfredo Sanchez said. “It’s hard to know exactly, but many older Hispanics do not have licenses.”

The gubernatorial race between Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Sen. Wendy Davis has been a highly contested and engaging campaign.

Davis is currently trailing Abbott by 12.3 points, according to Real Clear Politics polling data.

Vice chair of UNT College Republicans Baileigh Poston,  who interns for the Abbott, George P. Bush and Rodney Anderson campaigns, said Republican campaigns are noticing a surge by the Democrats.

“She [Davis] has done a lot to pull Democratic voters,” she said. “You would be silly to say that they aren’t coming for us.”

Republican Texas Sen. Dan Patrick defeated incumbent David Dewhurst earlier this year in the lieutenant governor primaries. Patrick is on the ballot with Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, Libertarian Robert Butler and Green party member Chandrakantha Courtney. It’s the first time in Texas history women are running for governor and lieutenant governor.

Federal elections

Running for U.S. Senator are Republican John Cornyn, Democrat David Alameel, Libertarian Rebecca Paddock and Green Party member Emily Sanchez. Senate Minority Whip Cornyn is the incumbent.

U.S. House District 26 is a head-to-head vote between Republican incumbent Michael Burgess and Libertarian Mark Boler. Burgess recently suggested delaying visas from countries with Ebola while Boler looks to shut down the IRS, according to his website.

State and county lawmakers

There are 15 Senate seats up for election this year, two of which represent Denton County. Part of the county is in District 12 and is seated currently by Texas Sen. Jane Nelson. District 30, the district that encompasses UNT, is held by Texas Sen. Craig Estes, who is running against Cory Lane, a Libertarian with a little-known background. 

Denton County includes four Texas House seats. UNT political science senior Daniel Moran will challenge House District 63 incumbent Republican Tan Parker.

“I think it’s great that he’s running,” Poston said. “I’m voting for Tan, but I support him [Moran] in his choice to run because I think it is important for young people to be involved. It’s not easy to run for an elected seat.”

Rep. Myra Crownover is contested by Democrat Emy Lyons and Green Party member Braeden Wright for the District 64 seat, which covers UNT. Districts 65 and 106 are also under Republican control.

Several court seats, currently held by Republicans, are on the ballot, but are mostly unchallenged. However, Democrat David Heiman challenges the 367th Judicial District seat, currently held by Margaret Barnes.

Attorney General and several Texas Supreme Court seats are on the ballot as well.

Billy Poer, president of College Democrats of UNT, said the Student Government Association was active during this election cycle.

“There has been giant pushes from SGA to get people registered to vote,” he said. “SGA stays nonpartisan, but the majority of the people that have been helping them and who have been registering are Democrats. We can only thank them for that.”

Nonpartisan measures

The Denton City Council sought voter approval for $98.1 million in spending bonds in August that focus on construction and renovation.

“As proposed, it is anticipated that this program would require an increase in the ad valorem property tax rate of up to three cents per $100 of assessed value,” the city’s website reads. “The average value of a home in Denton is $166,728 and would see an increase in the tax levy of around $50 per year, or $4.12 per month.”

The bonds include Proposition 1, which would authorize the sale of $61.7 million of public securities to construct, restructure and extend streets, overpasses, landscapes, street lighting and other infrastructure. Specifically, the City of Denton website said $9.5 million will go to Bonnie Brae Street renovations. There will be multiple sidewalk improvements that will cost $2 million. General street reconstruction will cost $24 million. Other projects within Proposition 1 include railroad quiet zones and public art funds for $30,000.

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Construction crews repair the road on Hickory Street and Industrial Boulevard. Voting will take place on the possible approval of bonds for construction of damaged roads in Denton.

“Infrastructure is always interesting,” Poston said. “It’s something we invest in now and our grandkids will use, so it’s important get our infrastructure right.”

She said legislative sessions don’t always cover infrastructure concerns, which is why they are often on city bond elections.   

Proposition 2 pertains to police and fire department improvements for $16.5 million. The reconstruction of Fire Station No. 3 and No. 4 will cost $13.6 million total. Improvements to the police firing range will cost $485,000, and $115,000 will go to police department lobby renovations.

“The stations are very small and have had little updating,” Fire Department Chief Robin Paulsgrove said. “This is an infrastructure investment for the city’s future.”

He said the bond would not be used to hire new employees. And the land to build the new stations is adjacent to the existing stations, as to keep up response times in the respective areas.

Stormwater drainage and flood control efforts costing $8.5 million will be voted on in Proposition 3. Eagle Drive is one of the streets expected to be changed if the measure passes. About $2 million will go to that effort according to the website.

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A home near campus shows support for the Denton First campaign, which aims to make Denton a wet county. This will allow the sale of liquor within city limits and lessen fees for bar owners.

The city’s parks and recreation areas will be improved with $11.3 million if Proposition 4 passes. It includes phase 2 of the Vela Soccer Complex construction, which would spend $1.3 million. General park and playground improvements of $1.2 million are among expenditures. The Southwest Park master plan and design will take up $1.2 million.

The most prominent of the measures is the hydraulic fracturing ban, which will amend Chapter 16, a city ordinance, and will add Article VII, the prohibition of fracking.

“We probably have the best educated place in the U.S. as far as fracking goes,” President of Denton Drilling Awareness Group Cathy McMullen said.

While the fracking ban is considered by some to be the most polarizing issue, a vote authorizing the legal sale of liquor within the Denton city limits is also on the ballot.

An ordinance to sell a 1.6-acre plot of land within the North Lakes Park is on the ballot.

“There’s a small triangle of property at the southwest corner of the park that the adjacent property owner would like to acquire,” said Emerson Vorel, director of parks and recreation. “It’s a piece of property that has little use to us. It’s a smart move for the city.”

Featured Image: Daniel Elliot plays guitar outside of MadWorld Records on the Square in Denton. Elliot is a supporter of the ban to end fracking within city limits. Photos by Evan McAlister

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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