The Kleberg County Appraisal District Board of Directors discussed the ongoing board election during their meeting last week after area school superintendents raised protests when their districts failed to meet the nomination deadline.
Each of the nine entities served by the Kleberg County Appraisal District — Kleberg County, the City of Kingsville, Kingsville Independent School District, Ricardo ISD, Riviera ISD, Santa Gertrudis ISD, South Texas Water Authority, the Kenedy County Groundwater Conservation District and the City of Corpus Christi — is allocated a percentage of the 5,000 total votes for appraisal board elections based on its 2018 tax levies.
During their Oct. 15 regular meeting, the Kingsville ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution in a 5-2 split vote to nominate Board Vice-President Brandon Greenwood and trustee Lynn Yaklin for the appraisal board.
After that meeting, Ricardo ISD Superintendent Vita Canales and Riviera ISD Superintendent Karen Unterbrink protested to Kleberg County Chief Appraiser Ernestina Flores that they did not receive notification regarding the board nomination period, which they said caused them to miss the deadline.
Along with Greenwood and Yaklin, this year’s appraisal board nominees are Daniel Morales and Al Higginbotham, both nominated by Kleberg County, and Al Garcia as the nominee from the City of Kingsville. With the exception of Greenwood, all of the nominees are current board directors.
Gregory Wallace, who currently serves on the board and has in the past been nominated by the Ricardo and Riviera ISDs, did not receive a nomination this year.
Flores went over the timeline and her actions with the appraisal board during the meeting Thursday. She said the notification and information for appraisal board nominations normally is sent out in September, but she had received comments from “different members of the districts and some of the commissioners” that they did not have enough time to vet nominees before the Oct. 15 deadline.
“So what we did this year is we notified everybody at the end of June,” Flores said.
Flores said she was also asked how many people each entity could nominate for a board position. She said they could nominate up to five people if they wanted to, one for each position up for election.
“Everybody has that same opportunity,” she said. “Then, it just depends on how you apply the votes.”
As for the deadlines, Flores said the dates are specified in the tax code, which is what she used to set the calendar. She said the state also evaluates the appraisal districts to make sure they “fell in line with these dates.”
“And we were advised to stick with the deadlines, because if you move it for one (entity) then how long before you move it for another?” she asked. “If one wants one week, then one wants two weeks, when do you put a stopping point on there?”
Flores said for future elections, the appraisal district would send all information through certified mail.
“For everything that goes to an entity or has an entity deadline,” she said.
Garcia asked Flores what would happen if one of the nominees did not receive any votes in the election, to which she replied that they “have to get a vote in order to be elected.”
“Then we would have to open up (that position) again and go through another process in order to (elect someone),” she said.
Garcia said regardless of who sits on the appraisal board, the directors represent all of the entities, not just the ones that nominated them.
“In my view, I’m not going to not represent Riviera, Ricardo or Santa Gertrudis,” he said. “And there’s a fear in that, that we’re not going to (represent everybody), but it’s not true.”
“We’re here for all the interests of all of the entities,” Board Vice-President Daniel Morales said.
Yaklin said it would be similar to a school board trustee only representing the high school’s interests.
“I mean, we’re nominated by those districts, but we don’t only serve their interests,” she said. “And I don’t ever feel like I’m here because of that.”
“If you’re not going to be impartial, then you probably shouldn’t be here,” Higginbotham said. “Or in any post like this.”
The nine entities have until Dec. 15 to cast their votes for the nominees, who will serve a two-year term once elected beginning Jan. 1.
On Monday, the Kleberg County Commissioners voted 3-0 to split their 1,500 votes evenly between Morales and Higginbotham. County Judge Rudy Madrid and Pct. 2 Commissioner Chuck Schultz were not present for the meeting.
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (361) 221-0251.