As most Jersey Village residents know, but many outsiders don’t realize, we are a “home rule” city. What many don’t understand, however, is precisely what this means for the citizens of Jersey Village.
Under Texas law, cities may be organized as either a “general law” municipality or a “home rule” municipality. General law cities have very limited powers which are defined by state law. These cities are smaller and local governance is very limited.
Luckily, Jersey Village is a home rule city, which grants it wide latitude under Texas law to allow local citizens to govern their city the way they wish. Rather than being told by the state what they can do, the state only defines what a home rule city cannot do. If there is no prohibition in state law or in the state constitution, the city government may do anything consistent with its charter and ordinances.
Why is this important for the citizens of Jersey Village? By forming a home rule city, citizens of Jersey Village have taken their right to local self-governance and exercised it to the fullest extent under state law. We elect a mayor and city council that can substantially affect the services we receive such as fire, police and utilities. The actions or inactions of our elected city officials can also substantially affect the growth and desirability of our community, which also affects property values. Simply put, city government in a home rule city can directly affect your life in many ways that state or federal government simply will not.
In light of this immense power, it is disheartening to know that voter turnout for municipal elections in Jersey Village is shockingly low. In May 2015, only 331 out of approximately 5,000 registered voters cast a ballot in the last municipal election. Less than 7% of registered voters are choosing our elected officials to exercise the broad powers of a home rule city in Jersey Village.
We have an election coming up on Saturday, May 7, 2016. There are also early voting hours leading up to the election. If you live in Jersey Village, I encourage you to research the candidates running and take the time to cast your ballot. For more information about the coming election, you can visit the City of Jersey Village’s elections page here: http://www.jerseyvillage.info/default.aspx?name=city.elections