Devine mayoral election continues as planned after eligibility allegations

Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez confirmed on October 13 that both mayoral candidates, incumbent Cory Thompson and challenger Angela Pichardo, are eligible to run for office and are on the ballot despite rumors to the contrary last week.
“All candidates met the requirements when they filed,” Rodriguez said.
Early voting is underway at City Hall and continues through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
In order to be eligible to be a candidate for or elected to public office, a person must have resided continuously in the state for 12 months, and in the territory from which the office is elected for six months immediately preceding the date of the regular filing deadline for a candidate’s application for a place on the ballot, as well as be registered to vote in the territory from which the office is elected by date of the regular filing deadline (Election Code Section 141.001 (a)).
As the election was initially set for May 2 before being postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both the filing deadline and the date by which candidates needed to be a registered voter in Medina County was February 14.
“We do and did call the Medina County Elections office and talked to Lena [Parrish, Elections Clerk] to see if all the candidates were registered voters and they were,” Rodriguez said.
The law requires only that candidates be registered voters in order to file for a place on the ballot, not valid voters.

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Thompson also questioned whether Pichardo meets the state’s residency requirements to run for mayor. Section 22.032 (a) of the Local Government Code requires that the mayor of a Type A general-law city like Devine, “must have resided within the municipal limits for at least 12 months preceding the election day.”
Both candidates have owned property in Devine for years.
“I am shocked that my residency is being questioned after living in the Devine city limits for years,” Pichardo said. “I have met and surpassed all the requirements needed to run for Mayor of Devine and all requirements are fulfilled.”
Thompson submitted a formal complaint with Rodriguez regarding Pichardo’s eligibility on August 17, but did not go public with his allegations until Oct. 6, a week before early voting began.
Rodriguez serves as elections officer for municipal elections in her capacity as City Secretary.
“According to the Secretary of State, we must assume that the information is all correct on the [candidate’s] application and the documents presented and trust their oath,” Rodriguez said.
Any investigations that may be necessary during an election fall to the Secretary of State and the court system.
Rodriguez provided documentation from the Texas Municipal Election Code manual that expanded on the issue.
“As long as it appears on the face of the application that the individual lives in the territory they are seeking to represent for the requisite amount of time, the city secretary cannot do any further research on the individual’s residency,” the manual states. “Even if presented with documents that appear to show that a candidate does not live at the address cited as the residence address on the application, the city secretary cannot declare a candidate ineligible based on such documentation.
“It has long been held that residency is a fact question that can only be established by a court of law. This is because ineligibility can only be established by a conclusive public record, and there is no public record that conclusively establishes residency.”
Rodriguez reiterated that both mayoral candidates have fulfilled the requirements to be on the ballot and the winner will be sworn in as mayor.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer