Dike residents’ request to have an incorporation election has finally been granted by Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom after almost six months of waiting. Residents filed the necessary paperwork back in August of 2022 ahead of the deadline for the November election cycle, but were denied a spot on the ballot.
Considerable back and forth communications between Dike residents and Hopkins County culminated today as Judge Robert Newsom released the following statement through his administrative assistant Donna Goins: “County Judge Robert Newsom announces the candidacy for election of council members for the City of Dike is now open. Potential candidates have until February 17, 2023 at 5:00pm to sign up to have names placed on the May 6, 2023 election ballot. All interested should contact the County Clerk’s office for the application.” The brief announcement is now a major hurdle cleared for Dike residents as they can now vote on incorporation of their area which could give the citizens much more control over the happenings in the Dike area.
Background On Dike Incorporation Request
Residents and property owners in Dike community began researching the matter out of a desire to control what goes on in their community after they learned the Commissioners Court had approved tax incentives for a solar project planned in the Dike community.
When speaking up in Commissioners Court and a community meeting hosted by Engie and Hopkins County failed to achieve the goal of residents seeking to stop the solar project from coming to Dike, an attempt to get an injunction and other legal action also was sought. The Dike residents opposed to the solar company leasing private land and installing a solar facility in their community organized.
Initially, the Dike residents voices a hope to incorporate before construction of the solar project began, but were not able to do so. Michael Pickens, spokesperson for Save Dike from Solar, advised the Commissioners Court and County Judge in previous meetings recently that the residents in opposition to the solar facility were working on the requirements to make Dike an incorporated area, so that Dike residents have a say in decision-making that impacts their community.
During the public forum portion of the Aug. 15, 2022 Commissioners Court meeting, Reams read a letter drafted to Newsom, asking him to order an incorporation election, and appoint two election judges, and publish or post notice of the election as required, in accordance with Chapter 8 of Texas Government Code Chapter. He then presented the letter, along with a signed petition, and a map of the proposed area of Dike to be incorporated to the county judge.
Newsom mailed a response letter dated Aug. 22, 2022, to Reams regarding the incorporation election petition. The letter signed by the judge requested additional documentation for verification of petition requirements.
The judge indicated the letter, addressed to Kirk Reams who presented the petition Aug. 15 during Commissioners Court, was drafted and mailed based on recommendations from legal council.
In the letter, Newsom advises Reams that “additional documentation” is required to provide “satisfactory proof that the petition meets the statutory requirements” for a Type C General-Law Municipality” as proposed. He said the petition failed to provide detailed documentation establishing the number of inhabitants and territorial requirements for incorporation as outlined in Chapter 8 of Texas Local Government Code.
The letter calls for a detailed map or adequate descriptions are needed to tailor ballots for the registered voters within the proposed boundaries. The map submitted, according to Newsom’s letter to Reams, fails to provide adequate details in order for the Hopkins County Clerk to identify the registered voters within the proposed boundaries.
Once satisfied with documentation, Newsom said that would be used to research the cost of holding a special incorporation election and notify him of the cost estimate. Funds would have to be paid in advance to prepare for the election, and a draft order calling for an election would be needed as well.