An item on this week’s Nueces County's Commissioners Court agenda has the county's top election official concerned.
On Wednesday, commissioners will vote to approve a $271,500 contract with Austin-based Crosswind Media.
In the contract, Crosswind is asking the county for, among other things, $129,000 for media purchases including a vehicle wrap, $20,000 for voter education on safely voting during the pandemic, $40,000 for creative materials and $25,000 for an item called "voting ambassadors."
“They told me they were going to hire a bunch of young people to go into senior centers and assisted living facilities and talk to seniors about voting,” Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands said.
Earlier, Sands says she was approached by Crosswind, but declined its offer.
“I thought that was the end of it, I really did,” said Sands. “I thought that was the end of it and we kept on working like we do.”
Sands says she has concerns with the Crosswinds proposal because it charges the county for things it has already paid for during this election cycle.
That’s why Sands couldn’t believe when a deal with Crosswind, signed by Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, appeared on this week’s Commissioners Court agenda.
“I was stunned that it had been signed by the county judge,” said Sands. “She never reached out to me, didn’t know she was doing that.”
This contract would be paid for by a $337,608 grant the county received from the Center for Tech and Civic Life in Chicago. The grant says the money has to pay for things like ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting. Neither is applicable here.
Sands says she’s not sure what that money would go to.
“Perhaps they look at it as it’s not taxpayer dollars so it doesn’t matter,” said Sands. “Of course it matters, because it could be used for other things we really need for the election.”
Sands believes the grant would be better used reimbursing her office and other entities for costs incurred during the election, something she says will save taxpayers money.
“We could use this money in other places,” said Sands. “Paying for the temps, paying for PPE that we need, hand sanitizer, and not passing that cost along."
KRIS Communications contacted Judge Canales' office for comment and left messages and texts, but we haven't heard back from her.
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