Another City Councilmember resigned last night in Hutto. First, Michael Smith who was found to have had over ten thousand dollars in unresolved back tax liens along with other issues and now Bettina Jordan, the councilwoman most characterized as Smith’s “yes man” on the dais.
Bettina Jordan’s resignation, described by many as a temper tantrum, will ultimately cost the taxpayers of Hutto over 12k, the price-tag for a special election to be held later this year to fill her abandoned position.
Two weeks ago, Michael Smith, after being found ineligible to run for office and also unqualified to hold the seat, was forced to resign. His resignation stemmed from back taxes he owed the city of Hutto related to a business he owned that was shut down by the State of Texas for “serious and pervasive noncompliance”. After further digging by KXAN, the back taxes owed by Smith may be the least of his worries.
New findings have surfaced showing Smith may have perjured himself with documents he filed with the State Comptroller Office and the County Clerks office. Sources say a criminal complaint may soon be filed against Smith regarding these issues.
To make matters even more confusing, even though Smith was forced to resign and ruled ineligible to run for office, his name will stay on the ballot. The election code states if a candidate is ruled ineligible after the 78th day prior to election, their name remains on the ballot. This is where it gets tricky.
The Election Code states: In an election where there is no runoff requirement (i.e., election is by plurality): If a candidate dies or is declared ineligible after the deadline, the candidate’s name will remain on the ballot, and any votes cast for that candidate must be counted in the regular manner. If the candidate receives the vote required for the election, a vacancy results and is filled in the regular manner of filling vacancies in the political subdivision.
What does that mean? Simply put, if Smith were to pull off a miracle and win more votes than Tim Jordan, the election is null, forcing a special election for that seat. Given more legal troubles may be on the horizon for Smith, he could again be ineligible for that election as well.
Fast forward to August, the seat abandoned by Bettina Jordan last night will again go to the ballot to fill the unexpired 2 years remaining for the seat. City Council will more than likely place this issue on the agenda for their next meeting to temporarily fill this vacancy until the special election is held later this year.
Many spoke out on social media today about Bettina Jordan’s sudden resignation. One person commented, “We need to put a cardboard figure in it. Same input less trouble.” Another stated “After watching those meetings Thursday after Thursday. I will say that seat being empty is not gonna be much different than when she was sitting in it. Might get lucky and the empty seat might actually ask a question or at least look interested in being there.”
Needless to say, it’s a mess in Hutto but there appears to be a bright light at the end of the tunnel. The newer council members elected since 2015, along with the addition of Tim Jordan and a competent Place 6 member should calm the waters for some smooth sailing. A refreshing change of pace that hasn’t been seen in Hutto for many years.