Judge rules ECUD elections can continue

Judge Shrode with the 358th District Court had previously granted a Temporary Restraining Order until a hearing on the election could be held.
Judge John Shrode of the 358th District Court said temporary restraining orders were for “extreme necessity or hardship.”
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 2:48 PM CDT
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ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KOSA) - A judge with the 358th district ruled Friday that Ector County Utility District (ECUD) can continue with its planned elections on Nov. 8.

Two ECUD Board of Directors members and an Ector County resident filed a lawsuit in September trying to cancel the election, saying that Texas Water Code specifies elections are to be held in May of even-numbered years, not November as currently scheduled.

Judge John Shrode with the 358th District Court granted a Temporary Restraining Order on the elections earlier this month (Read the original story about the lawsuit here), but denied giving the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction that would cancel ECUD’s fall elections.

Shrode said the plaintiffs did not meet the high burden necessary for an election to be cancelled days before the start of early voting but also made it clear that both sides presented a compelling case.

It’s the latest decision in a months-long battle between two factions of ECUD.

“I’m sad, but I’m somewhat relieved,” said ECUD President and defendant Tommy Ervin.

“We’re kind of saddened. I’m not gonna lie about that,” said Tommy Walker, a member of the ECUD Board of Directors and plaintiff in the case. “We don’t feel like justice was completely served, but the judge gave us direction to come together in mediation.”

That mediation is the next step in the fight between the two factions, But questions remain about whether the two sides can find common ground.

“We’ll be changing some of our bylaws to match with some of the laws that have been brought out,” Ervin said, seeking to strike a conciliatory tone.

How those laws have been followed – or not followed – was the catalyst for the lawsuit in the first place.

“ECUD has had a habit of picking and choosing laws it wants to follow,” Walker said. “If it’s handy, we’ll follow this law. If it’s not handy, we’ll follow that law.”

Despite Friday’s loss in court, Walker hopes that ECUD re-evaluates how it does business and handles elections.

If not, he’s more than willing to continue the battle for as long as necessary.

“If they’re not paying attention by now, they’re asleep because everyone knows what the issues are,” Walker said. “It just depends on how deep your loyalties lie, whether you’re loyal to the taxpayer or loyal to a man. And I have no problems; I’m loyal to the taxpayer.”