A Texarkana, Texas, business owner plans to shake up city government, but he will have to wait until the next elections in November 2020.
Roger Sheppard, proprietor of brewery and restaurant Redbone Magic Brewing Co., says the Texas-side City Council and mayor are not pro-business enough, and he has begun organizing and recruiting opposition candidates. But because of a change from two-year to three-year terms instituted in 2017, no city official is up for election for more than a year.
Over-regulation and too much tolerance of the homeless are preventing business from thriving downtown, Sheppard said in an interview Tuesday. With the slogan "Make Texarkana Fun Again," his effort aims to change that.
"I'm not trying to run anybody off," he said, and he is trying to meet with every council member and Mayor Bob Bruggeman to voice his concerns directly. At the same time, he has held one political organization meeting that drew more than 40 interested people, and he says he knows of several who share his viewpoint and are ready to run for office.
"I think I can get four people elected," Sheppard said.
He ruled out petitioning to force recall elections and said he will wait for the regular election cycle. That means the earliest his campaign could achieve a majority on the council is November 2021.
The 2017 city charter change that lengthened the council's and mayor's terms included a transition process that will result in staggered elections, with two of the six council seats up for a vote in each year of a three-year cycle.
As a result, there will be no council or mayor election this year. Ward 3 Council Member Betty Williams and Ward 5's Bill Harp will be up for re-election in 2020; Ward 1's Jean Matlock, Ward 2's Mary Hart and Mayor Bob Bruggeman in 2021; and Ward 4's Christie Alcorn and Ward 6's Josh Davis in 2022.
Candidates must be registered voters to qualify. Mayoral candidates must have lived in the city for 12 months and council candidates in their designated wards for six months before Election Day.