El Paso, Texas, to hold special council election after Facebook post triggers resign-to-run law
Five states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, and Texas—require officeholders to resign from their current position when they become a candidate for a different office. Depending on the state, such laws—known as resign-to-run laws—can be triggered when a candidate files paperwork to run for office or when he or she declares their intention to run.
In El Paso, Texas, city council member Cassandra Hernandez-Brown was forced to vacate her seat after a post was made on her public Facebook page August 19 that read, “Cassandra Hernandez for mayor of El Paso.” The post was later deleted. Hernandez-Brown said one of her volunteers uploaded the phrase and that she did not authorize it. The city council voted 4-3 August 26 that the Facebook post was a declaration of her candidacy for mayor and called for a special election for her seat November 5.
During the council meeting when the vote to call the special election was taken, Hernandez-Brown’s attorney argued that she should not have to resign. He stated, “There is nothing wrong with preparing for other options and considering those. It was an inadvertent public notification that went out when they changed the name of that Facebook account.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Claudia Ordaz Perez said that the city council needed to follow state law. Perez stated, “One, is this was done on a public platform. Two, any person from the public looking at this public page would assume that this was an announcement for public office.”
The Texas Constitution’s resign-to-run provision states, “If any of the officers named herein shall announce their candidacy, or shall in fact become a candidate, in any General, Special or Primary Election, for any office of profit or trust under the laws of this State or the United States other than the office then held, at any time when the unexpired term of the office then held shall exceed one year and 30 days, such announcement or such candidacy shall constitute an automatic resignation of the office then held, and the vacancy thereby created shall be filled pursuant to law in the same manner as other vacancies for such office are filled.
Hernandez-Brown has filed to run in the special election. The El Paso city attorney issued a statement September 12 that Hernandez-Brown is allowed to be a candidate in that contest and can stay on the council until the special election is held.
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