May 01, 2007
Early voting in New Braunfels

In addition to Houston and Farmer's Branch, there's an election of interest going on in New Braunfels, where irate tubers are attempting to recall New Braunfels City Council Member Ken Valentine, who has been the driving force behind most of the new river regulations. This recent story has an update on that effort.

The effort to recall Councilman Ken Valentine in the May 12 city election is being seen by many as a referendum on the strict new rules on tubing the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, which Valentine championed.

The group KeepNBNB insists, however, that Valentine's positions on river issues is just one example of his "divisiveness" and failure to represent his entire district by focusing only on river-related issues that affect just him and his immediate riverfront neighbors.

"We had an opportunity to do a bunch of things everyone could agree on," recall spokesman Kevin Webb said, claiming there is broad consensus to improve streets and drainage and beef up the police department. "But he decided to do the one thing no one could agree on."

In the last two years, Valentine led successful efforts to enact bans on Jello shots and beer bongs and to enforce one of the nation's toughest noise ordinances on the river. This year the council put in new restrictions on the size and number of floatation devices people can bring on the river and, most controversially, limited people to one 16-quart cooler per person.

"He's never won a contested election in his district," Webb said. "But he is setting the agenda in our city. I don't know where he thinks his mandate came from."

Valentine said that while controlling the huge crowds, litter and drunken behavior on the rivers is obviously an important issue, he has spent a lot of time on drainage, streets, parks, youth sports, public safety and beautification issues. He provided a list of 28 issues he has worked on since he was re-elected in 2005.

"This whole thing is solely about river issues," he said of the recall group. "I know it's a divisive issue, but if you don't address the thorny issues, the community is not going to make progress."

Valentine's website is here. Apparently, Big Tubing is out to get him. On the other side, the KeepNBNB folks are excited about voting. I can't wait to see how this one turns out. It may come with its own sequel, too:

If Valentine loses the recall election he will be kicked out of office as soon as the rest of the council certifies results. The council would call a special election to fill the vacancy, and Valentine said he would run again.

Meanwhile, there's an open City Council seat in New Braunfels that's also on the ballot. Something tells me that race hasn't gotten as much publicity.

We got a robocall from the Harris County GOP this afternoon, but it was just informational - it said there's an election going on, make sure you vote, visit our website to see candidate responses, and that's about it. The more Republicans that vote, the more likely that there will be a runoff. The best thing you can do about that is make sure you get out and vote for Melissa Noriega, and that you tell everyone you know to do so, too.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention, the brief candidate bios that weren't in Sunday's paper are now on the City Hall blog.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 01, 2007 to Election 2007