As if on cue, the following hit my inbox on Wednesday afternoon, from Eric Dick:
Phillip Paul Bryant is filing a lawsuit to invalidate Proposition 2 because the ballot language misled Houston voters.
Annise Parker and the City of Houston have a history with misleading voters when it comes to ballot language. Indeed in 2015 alone, Texas Supreme Court has found that Annise Parker and the City of Houston have used inappropriate ballot language at least twice.
On November 3, 2015, registered voters of the City of Houston were asked to vote on several propositions, including a proposition extending term limits. (“Proposition 2”). The ballot language for Proposition 2 reads as follows:
“(Relating to Term Limits for City Elective Office) Shall the City Charter of the City of Houston be amended to reduce the number of terms of elective offices to no more than two terms in the same office and limit the length for all terms of elective office to four years, beginning in January 2016; and provide for transition?”
The voters of the City of Houston passed Proposition 2 on November 3, 2015.
The language of Proposition 2 was misleading in one of more of the following ways:
- The ballot language suggested that it would “limit” term length instead of expanding them from two-year terms to four-year terms;
- The ballot language suggested that the “limit the length for all terms” to be four years instead of allowing elected municipal officials to serve a total of up to eight or ten years;
- As admitted by Annise D. Parker in an interview with Houston Public Media, voters thought they were limiting the amount of time for municipal elected officials to serve in office.
See here for the background. Phillip Paul Bryant was a candidate for District B in 2011, and was engaged in the opposition to HERO. A copy of the petition is here; as always, I welcome feedback from the lawyers out there. On the one hand, I voted against the term limits change and feel that two-year terms are the better idea. On the other hand, I’m not particularly awed by Eric Dick’s legal prowess. On the other other hand, Lord only knows what the Supreme Court will do; the two footnotes in that press release refer to the decisions on Renew Houston and the wording of the HERO referendum. So who knows? If history is any guide, we won’t know for several years. The Chron and KUHF have more.