Jesse Christesson, the West Odessa resident who filed a challenge to Sheila Black’s candidacy for the ECUD Board of Directors says his challenge submitted last month has not been satisfactorily addressed and he is taking further action.
“I want to help the ECUD customers and taxpayers ensure that we are getting fair and legal representation on the ECUD Board of Directors and I remain convinced that things are not right or lawful at ECUD with this election,” said Mr. Christesson.
After receiving Christesson’s challenge letter, ECUD held the ballot draw on August 26th to determine the order the names would appear on the ballot.
Christesson attended the drawing and says he restated his challenge to Black’s eligibility. Black has reportedly responded that she owns property in West Odessa and has been paying taxes on it since 2003. Despite promises to show proof of property ownership in the district, Christesson says no paperwork or evidence has been provided.
Board Secretary Margaret Burton read a letter from ECUD Attorney Bill Fowler sent shortly before the ballot draw meeting in which Fowler claimed to have spoken with the Secretary of State and declared Black qualified to run because of that conversation.
Despite requests from several residents in attendance who say they requested a copy of a written opinion from the Secretary of State, Fowler has yet to produce the written opinion or proof from Black documenting her eligibility to run for an ECUD Board seat.
Because of this, Christesson is not letting go.
Christesson restated his challenges to Black’s eligibility in a letter Wednesday to Ector County Elections Administrator Lisa Sertuche and Fowler and raised several new challenges to the legality of the ECUD election.
The first challenge asserts that ECUD has the wrong people on the ballot – not because of his opinion about the candidates, but because of mistakes that have been made by ECUD.
The letter explains that ECUD director positions are split into two groups or classes, with class 1 having three directors, and class 2 having two directors. Each class serves for a staggered election term.
Christesson’s claim is that a review of ECUD minutes back to 2000 shows the 2000 election was for the Class II group of two directors. Working forward, he contends that this year’s election should be for the Class I Directors – currently Stephanie Shaw, Margaret Burton, and Troy Walker – and not Will Kappauff and Troy Walker.
The second challenge being raised in the letter is that under Texas law, specifically, the Texas Water Code, public elections for the ECUD Board should be held every even-numbered year in May and not November.
Finally, Mr. Christesson renews his contention that Black, who has filed to run in the current November election remains ineligible as she does not meet the ECUD requirement that she must own land that is subject to ECUD taxation.
Odessa Headlines has been unable to locate any property ownership records for Black at either the Ector County Appraisal District records or the Ector County Clerk’s Office.
The letter concludes by stating that based on the many irregularities uncovered by Mr. Christesson that any election of ECUD Board members this November would be invalid and urges both Elections Administrator Elizabeth (Lisa) Sertuche and the ECUD Board to cancel any upcoming Board elections.
ECUD holds board meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is Wednesday, September 14, with a board workshop at 1:30, and the board meeting at 2:30. Both are open to the public, and the public is allowed to comment on agenda items for up to 5 minutes. Agendas are posted with 72-hour advance notice and can be found at www.ecudwestodessatx.org The meeting location is 1039 N Moss Ave at the ECUD District Office.