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Government in Palmer, Texas

City of Palmer

A resident of Palmer sent us two articles to include on this page, requesting no byline. Both articles include important information - enjoy!

"How to run for City Council: 

I was recently asked how an individual gets elected to Council. This is not the first time someone has asked me how they can get elected to serve our town. It appears that some of our fine citizens have realized that their influence is not limited merely to voting, but that they also can run for office. However, these same folks have been mislead into believing that in order to be a public official one has to have to have a college education, a background in politics, and/or have family ties to the current political system. That's just not so. If you wish to participate in the political system, desire good government, and do not feel that you are adequately represented by your current elected officials, by all means, run for office! But know what you are getting into before you decide to put your name on the ballot. While no one article can explain the entire process in detail, here is a brief overview of what one should know, or at least be aware of, before they decide to throw their name into the political ring.

First and foremost, make sure the decision is your choice. Don't be pressured into it. Do it because you want to serve the community through that office. Don't do it because you don't like the incumbent or the other candidates or because you're mad because the town allowed a violation of an ordinance next door to you.

And then you have to know that a campaign can get personal and nasty. To be successful, you will need to learn and/or already know how to respond to negative attacks positively. Mud-slinging is never a good option, and it can hurt your campaign. Let your opponent sling the mud.

Develop a thick skin ó You will be the victim of numerous attacks and your response can turn on or turn away voters. And realize that no candidate for elected office can rightfully expect to retain the degree of personal privacy granted to ordinary citizens. Your entire life can be made public. And if someone canít find anything negative to say about you, be prepared, they just may make it up.

 If that hasnít dissuaded you, then youíre ready to run. So here is what you need to know.

First, citizens who decide to run for office need to inform themselves on a variety of election topics before starting their campaigns. For example, they should be knowledgeable about the responsibilities and duties of the office they seek, the qualifications necessary for that office, and the legal requirements that affect a campaign. Letís zero in on running to become a City Councilmember since there will be three coming up this next term.

Similar to the Senate and House of Representatives on the state or federal level, City Council forms the legislative branch of City government. City Council creates the ordinances (local laws) that govern our town. City Council's duties include considering and approving: the annual budget, construction projects, tax rates, zoning ordinances, and many other projects and laws.

To be considered and to be placed on the ballot, all you need to do is to meet the following criteria:

1. be at least twenty-one years old

2. reside within the City for at least six month

3.be a registered voter

Two other things to know is that the time deadlines for filing are extremely important and are strictly enforced; and your nomination papers can be obtained from City Hall.

Once youíve filed, youíre ready to get out and campaign. Before you go, you should generate an initial campaign literature print piece with your background and picture.

It also helps to know your prospective opponents and the incumbent. Know what they stand for, what theyíve accomplished, or not, and most importantly, you must be able to clearly articulate why someone should vote for you instead of your opponent.

Success depends primarily on public recognition of a candidate and his or her reputation. Candidates should realize that public recognition will be maximized if they get out and go door-to-door prior to the election.

And finally, on Election Day, be prepared to blitz the town making certain that those folks who said they would vote for you have gone to the polls and actually voted. It helps to have a team of volunteers willing to help you in this endeavor".

 

"Citizen Participation  

Many citizens form their opinions of the city government on the basis of having attended just one council meeting. For some, it will be the only one they attend in their lifetime. This is the time to impress citizens favorably, and to show them that the council is capable of doing its job.  

The "citizen participation" period is a time slot set aside on the agenda for citizens to address the council on any subject. It is not to be confused with a public hearing, which is a formal proceeding conducted for the purpose of discussing a specific topic, such as the city budget or a proposed rezoning.  

Local practices vary considerably with respect to reserving a place on the agenda for citizen participation. Many city councils put this item toward the top of the agenda, so that citizens can make an appearance early in the meeting and then go about their business. Other councils reserve a place for citizen presentations at the very end of the agenda, while still others make no provision at all to hear from citizens during regular council meetings. Regardless of the time designated, if any, the presiding officer should inform visitors of the place on the agenda at which they will be recognized to speak.  If an exceptionally controversial item has drawn a large crowd, it is generally wise to state the approximate time the item is likely to come up for discussion.  

Although verbal interchanges between citizens and council members are appropriate, discussions should not be permitted to drag on, especially if they concern administrative problems that can be solved by the staff during regular city hall hours. Also, if speakers take too much time or engage in personal attacks on council members, it may be necessary for the mayor to cut them short. Council members are expected to be polite to citizens appearing before them, but there is no requirement that they subject themselves to intimidation by rude speakers.  

To guard against citizen filibusters, some councils limit the length of time any one citizen may speak to three or four minutes, and permit this to be extended only by-two thirds vote of the council.  This kind of limitation often is necessary to keep talkative speakers from infringing on the rights of others who may wish to appear.  

The city council cannot take action unless it has been posted on the agenda in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.  If a citizen brings an item before the council that needs to be acted upon, the city council should request that it be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.  The Attorney General has also stated that a city that knows or reasonably should know the subject matter of a citizenís presentation should describe the matter on the agenda."  

 

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