Early voting started this week with election day on May 24th. The run-offs are for District Attorney, El Paso County Tax Assessor-Collector and Justice on the Eighth Court of Appeals. Here are the details on the races:
District Attorney – this is a race between incumbent Jaime Esparza and first-time candidate Yvonne Rosales.
A native El Pasoan, Yvonne Rosales is a proud graduate of Austin High School, the University of Texas at El Paso and St. Mary’s University School of Law. Upon graduating from law school, Yvonne returned to El Paso to begin a career prosecuting dangerous criminals. In 2005, she co-founded the Al-Hanna and Rosales Law Firm, a successful criminal and family law firm. You can view her webpage here. Yvonne Rosales strongly supports using restriction methods, such as Ignition Interlock systems (which requires offenders to blow air into a device in order to start the vehicle) and other monitoring devices and programs to stop offenders from drunk driving while awaiting trial. She also states that she will work to reduce the huge case backlog. “It is her compassion and experience that makes Yvonne the best candidate for District Attorney of the 34th Judicial District, which encompasses the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson.”
Jaime Esparza is the incumbent and is currently serving his sixth term for El Paso, Culberson, and Hudspeth Counties, having been in office since 1993. Mr. Esparza is a 1979 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and, in 1983, earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center. He was licensed to practice law in 1983 and is Board Certified in Criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.You can view his webpage here. Jaimehas been in the news because of the Daniel Villegas wrongful conviction case, a case he has vowed to retry. He was also in the news because of his refusal to do anything about the EPISD scandal. “Experience + Leadership = Justice.”
El Paso County Tax Assessor-Collector – this is a race between incumbent Ruben Gonzalez (who was not elected to the position, but rather appointed by the County Commissioners last year) and Siria Rocha.
Siria Rocha began her professional career in the public sector working at the County Attorney’s office where she served in various roles, made presentations, was instrumental in the recovery of “Hot Check Dollars” for merchants and the establishment of the “Million Dollars” award for collections. She also worked as Chief Deputy Tax Assessor Collector, managing over 72 employees, overseeing a multi-million dollar budget, and assisted in focusing the Tax Assessor Collector office as dedicated to customer service. You can read her webpage here. Siria wants to cut waste in order to stop aggressive property tax hikes. “Siria Rocha stands ready to serve her community as County Tax Assessor Collector.”
Ruben Gonzalez is the incumbent. After his military service, he went to work with Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, rising through the ranks to Regional Manager. In March 2015 he was appointed to the position by the Commissioner’s Court after the current tax assessor announced his retirement. You can view his web page here. Gonzalez wants to streamline the process for title and vehicle registration, modernize the office by using electronic reporting, and provide kiosks at County Tax offices that will allow people to quickly pay their fines. Recently, there Siria Rocha has accused Ruben Gonzalez of unethical leadership by allowing his employees to campaign for him while still on the clock. “Working for TxDMV for 38 years, Ruben knows and understands the importance of efficiency, effectiveness and time management within the office environment, which results in improved quality service to taxpayers.”
Justice on the state’s Eighth Court of Appeals – this is a race between Gina Palafox and Maria Ramirez. Neither one of them is the incumbent.
Gina Palafox has taught business law and ethics to MBA and undergraduate students at UTEP. She has served as a Commissioner and attorney on the El Paso County Ethics Commission, and currently works in the compliance office at University Medical Center “to improve public healthcare through initiatives that deliver the right care needed, at the right time, and at the right place.” She received the endorsement of the El Paso Times (not sure if that will help or hurt her). You can view her webpage here and her Facebook page here. “Independence, fairness and competence in interpreting and applying laws are founding principles of our judicial system.”
Judge Maria Bertha Ramirez has a private law practice in El Paso along with serving as an Associate Municipal Judge. She received her law degree from Indiana University after competing undergraduate work at the University of Texas at El Paso, earning a B.S. degree.She lists her practice areas as Criminal, Family, Wills, Trusts, Probate and Appellate. She made news in March over a run-in she had at the courthouse. You can view her Facebook page here. “Qualified & Ready for the Job of Justice.”
Early voting period will be from Monday, May 16, 2016 through Friday, May 20, 2016. Election Day will be Tuesday, May 24, 2016 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You can find your polling station by clicking here.