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Kyle Council incumbent’s opponent seeks recount

Thursday, May 15, 2014 by Andy Sevilla

Kyle City Council incumbent Becky Selbera, who won re-election Saturday by just six votes, is being accused by her opponent in the race of being unqualified to run under city charter rules. Jaime Sanchez also is seeking a recount of the final vote.

Sanchez, a former council member who was challenging Selbera for her District 2 seat, submitted a petition for a recount to Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson Wednesday.

In an earlier email, Sanchez advised high-level city staffers that he also is challenging Selbera’s qualifications.

“I do not believe that Ms. Selvera (Selbera) meets the qualifications as set out in our City Charter as she owes property taxes to the City of Kyle,” Sanchez said in an email to Kyle’s city attorney, city manager, city secretary and mayor.

Selbera said Tuesday night that her tax troubles were taken care of last year following a Hays Free Press investigation, which found she owed seven years of property taxes on a parcel she now has turned over to her daughter. Taxes were owed to Hays County, the City of Kyle, Hays CISD and other local jurisdictions.

Last year, the Council censured Selbera for owing money to the city. The city charter explicitly forbids candidates for office and elected officials from being indebted to the city.

In a separate case, Selbera has been named in a suit filed in 2012 alleging that she and her siblings owe years of property taxes on a parcel on Thiele Road in Kyle. Then-City Attorney Frank Garza advised Council that Selbera could not be held accountable for taxes owed on that property as the matter was in litigation, and it had not been judicially decided that she was responsible for back taxes.

Sanchez said the fact still remains that she owes taxes, if not the whole amount, at least a portion of what is owed.

Sanchez also said property in which Selbera was identified as having an ownership interest – 301 W. Thiele – is also in arrears.

Hays County tax records show that property, which is under Selbera’s late father’s name, has unpaid taxes for years 2010 through 2013, including to Kyle. Selbera indicated she had an ownership interest in that property on her personal financial statement submitted early this year.

“I believe that Rebeca Selvera, also known as Becky Selbera, failed to meet the qualifications under our City Charter for election to the City Council as she is indebted to the City of Kyle,” Sanchez said in his email.

Sanchez also takes issue with Selbera using a different surname on the ballot than the one she was given at birth.

Selbera was born Rebeca Selvera, but the Council member told the Hays Free Press Tuesday night that she changed her name on her birth certificate and the city has a record of that. That document was not available Tuesday night.

Sanchez alleges that a search of Hays County records on Becky Selbera doesn’t yield many records other than the 2012 tax lawsuit against her and her siblings. However, he said a search of her “true and given name” provides arrest records, criminal court records and a 2001 civil case against now-Council member David Wilson.

A search of jail records reveals five different arrests for Selvera, with only one occurring while serving as a public official. That arrest was in 2007 for failure to appear to court, failure to display a driver’s license and failure to maintain financial responsibility (car insurance). Selbera took care of the matter by paying a $746 fine.

County civil records also show Selvera filed for a petition for divorce from Wilson in 2001. Though the pair was never officially married, Selbera claimed common law marriage and was seeking division of the assets Wilson held, including his Kyle home.

A judge ultimately decided the pair was never married and Wilson was allowed to keep his home, though he was ordered to pay Selbera $15,000.

City Attorney Ken Johnson said Wednesday that he is still researching Sanchez’s claims. He said he has sought advice and guidance from the Texas Municipal League and the Texas Secretary of State’s office.

Johnson said a recount would likely happen next week, as the city has to verify the petition for the recount and notify both candidates. Johnson said Sanchez requested a manual count of the ballots cast.

The Hays County Elections Administrator said there were two provisional ballots cast in the May 10 election, one of which was in the Selbera-Sanchez race. City Secretary Amelia Sanchez said that one provisional vote was for Sanchez.

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