Of 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution on Tuesday’s general election ballot, only Proposition 1 failed.
The amendment would have allowed elected municipal judges to serve as judges in other jurisdictions, an option appointed judges already have, Clute Municipal Judge Randy Smith said. Only 13 municipalities elect their judge and two are in Brazoria County, including Smith. Sweeny Municipal Judge Robert Foster is the other.
“The voters make the decision and I’m not upset about it,” Smith said. “I really and truly feel like people didn’t understand, but they didn’t know the backside of it. But I really don’t think they understand that a lot of these smaller towns get judges from other towns because they don’t have the numbers to do it.”
Voters rejected the proposal overwhelmingly, with 65 percent against, according to complete but unofficial online voting records. A slightly higher percentage — 66.34 percent — voted against it in Brazoria County, unofficial totals show.
“I presented (the proposition) to Austin and they voted to put it on the ballot,” Smith said. “The way it was worded on the ballot didn’t help people understand.”
According to a court overview provided by the Texas State Judicial Branch, there are more than 900 municipal courts within the state of Texas.
“I think this amendment would be beneficial and I would be willing to serve other cities or villages if they decided they would like to appoint me,” Foster said.
Smith is the elected city judge for Clute but is also the appointed judge for Surfside Beach and the appointed assistant judge for Oyster Creek. He is still within the current law but is unpaid by Surfside and Oyster Creek, Smith said.
“I had to resign from Clute to be appointed by Surfside and Oyster Creek. They had to change their ordinances to say that I was unpaid to remain within the law when I was re-elected by the people of Clute,” Smith said.
The lack of understanding could be due to little press surrounding the proposition, Smith said.
“I think if there hadn’t been a lot of press on the income tax proposition, it may not have passed. But there was not a lot of press on this issue,” Smith said.
Despite the failure of the amendment to pass, Smith said he respects the voters of Brazoria County and the state of Texas.
“I appreciate citizens taking time to go vote,” he said. “Sometimes things change and sometimes they don’t. That’s the American way.”