Early this month the City of Odessa informed ECUD that their November 2020 contract for water delivery from the City is void as it was signed by convicted felon Tommy Ervin who is ineligible under Texas law to hold public office. ECUD, which services areas in west Ector County, relies on the City to provide the vast majority of the water that they resell to residents and businesses within the ECUD service area.
In records obtained from the City of Odessa via a public records request the City informed the Ector County Utility District (ECUD) that the water delivery contract that was negotiated and signed just prior to the swearing in of the new City Council in late 2020 is void and must be renegotiated due to the fact that this contract was signed by ECUD Board member Tommy Ervin who lacked the legal authority to execute the contract. This letter, dated September 1, 2023, also informs ECUD that until such time as a new contract can be negotiated that the City would sell water to ECUD on a month to month basis.
As reported by Odessa Headlines, Ervin’s eligibility to hold public office has been contested due to a number of felony convictions from which Ervin, despite his repeated claims to the contrary, has not been pardoned. Under Texas law Subsection 141.00I(a)(4) a convicted felon is ineligible to hold public office.
Subsection 141.00I(a)(4) of the Election Code provides that to be eligible as a candidate for public office a person must “have not been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities.”
The restoration of a convicted felon’s qualification to vote under Election Code subsection 1 l.002(a)(4)(A) after fully discharging a sentence does not restore his or her eligibility to hold public office under Election Code subsection 141.001(a)(4).
The ineligibility of a convicted felon to hold public office was ruled on and affirmed by current Attorney General Ken Paxton in 2017 in ruling KP-0251.
The latest action by the City of Odessa appears to have been triggered by an August 16, 2023 letter from ECUD claiming that the City had overcharged them for water. However, the issue of whether or not the current contract was valid appears to have surfaced in the past. According to email threads obtained by Odessa Headlines in November 2022 then Assistant City Attorney Dan Jones informed then City Attorney Natasha Brooks that it was his legal opinion that the ECUD contract was void due to Ervin’s unpardoned felonies.
Odessa Headlines contacted ECUD for comment but received no response to our inquiry.