City rejects Canady eligibility challenge

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The City of Liberty Hill unequivocally defended Council member Kathy Canady last week when questions were raised surrounding her residency status and eligibility to serve on the Liberty Hill City Council.

And City Attorney Tad Cleaves said no one has come forward to challenge Canady’s eligibility to either hold office or run again.

“If someone challenges the facts in the Application or Council Member Canady’s candidacy, the City will deal with the situation at that time,” Cleaves wrote in his response to The Independent on the issue. The same is true if her eligibility to serve is challenged.”

But it took only three hours Tuesday morning for the City to reject a complaint.

Former employee and Director of Planning Sally McFeron filed a complaint with the City by e-mail Tuesday morning.

In the complaint, McFeron wrote:
“Cathy L. Canady signed a sworn financial affidavit, ‘Designation of Homestead and Affidavit of Nonhomestead’, as recorded in the Williamson County Official Records, document number 2019048500 on 06/03/2019 stating her Homestead Property was located at 402 S. Boundary Street, Burnet, Texas  78641.

“In the sworn affidavit referenced above and in the recorded instrument, ‘Deed of Trust,’ document number 2019048504 on 06/03/2019, the financial documents specifically state that the ‘Affiant does not now and does not intend ever to reside on, use in any manner or claim Affiant’s Nonhomesteded Property as a business or residence homestead.’

“Furthermore, the property located at 1100 Loop 332 is an auto repair garage in the C-2 Zoning District of the City of Liberty Hill. Any residential use of the commercial property in this district is explicitly prohibited by the Unified Development Code Section 4.12.02 adopted by Ordinance 09-O-02, adopted by the City of Liberty Hill on January 28, 2009.

“I respectfully submit this challenge to her eligibility as placement on the May 2, 2020 (postponed to November 3rd, 2020) ballot for Placement 2 of the City Council,” McFeron wrote in the complaint.

But only a few hours later, the City responded in an e-mail from City Secretary Nancy Sawyer dismissing the complaint.

“I am unable to disqualify Kathy Canady from the General Election Ballot set for November 3, 2020 as your complaints do not constitute valid reason(s) to do so,” the e-mail read, before going on to explain that the Homestead Affidavit is not a public record and does not prove Canady is disqualified, and that her residence is listed as 1100 Loop 332.

When asked last week about the question of residency in relation to Canady’s eligibility to serve on the Council, Cleaves wrote to The Independent that “‘Residency’ or the idea of ‘residence’ or ‘residential’ has different meanings depending on the legal context. The meaning of ‘residential’ in a zoning context is inapplicable to the ‘residency’ requirement for a person to serve in public office under the Texas Election Code. It is the understanding of the City that Council Member Canady has resided within Liberty Hill during her entire term and continues to reside within Liberty Hill as required by the Texas Election Code.”

According to Texas Election Code, to be eligible for public office, a person must “have resided continuously in the state for 12 months and in the territory from which the office is elected for six months immediately preceding the following date: for an appointee to an office, the date the appointment is made.”

Cleaves went on to write that Canady currently resides in Liberty Hill, though not at the 1100 Loop 332 address, but did not provide a current address.

The City response last week concluded that Canady “has lived in Liberty Hill for nearly four decades” and said “there is no reason to doubt that her intention, while both serving the City and running for office, is to ‘reside’ in Liberty Hill for purposes of qualification under the Election Code.”

Canady admitted to filing the sworn affidavit on which she made false statements. Despite her sworn statement on the affidavit, she told The Independent she never held residency in Burnet, and said until recently she was residing in her business at 1100 Loop 332.

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