EPISD Bond Passes

There were so many surprises on election night:  Donald Trump won as president, 50.33% of registered voters in El Paso cast ballots, and the EPISD Bond passed.

We predict trying times for El Paso in the coming year.  Donald Trump has firm stands on immigrants and walls, both of which will have a large impact on our City.  Additionally, the citizens of El Paso just voted themselves a HUGE increase in property taxes.

“We’ve got a long way to go rebuilding trust,” Cabrera said. “This is a big step in the right direction.”  We disagree.  The rebuilding of trust should have happened BEFORE we gave EPISD the largest bond ever in El Paso County.  However, unlike the County Commissioner’s raises, we were given an opportunity to decide through our votes and the majority voted ‘yes’.

While EPISD is gleefully meeting this morning to start their plan to spend the money, we hope that they will be accountable.  We hope that they will be truthful and efficient.  The one thing they now no longer need to be is frugal.

Below is how the different parts of town voted on the bond:

episd-bond-final2

To see full election results, click here.

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Early Voting Monday, October 24, 2016 through Friday, November 04, 2016 – Have you Voted Yet?

What could possibly go wrong on November 8th?  Well:

  • You could wake up late
  • Have a family emergency
  • Have a late day at the office
  • Your child or spouse could get sick
  • Your car could break down
  • You could get picked for Jury Duty
  • You forget that it is election day

Rather than hoping that everything goes perfectly on one day, why not make sure you get a chance to vote by voting early?  The nice thing about early voting is that you can go to ANY of the locations (as opposed to only going to an assigned location on November 8th).  Click here to find your nearest early voting location.  In fact, go do it now!  Why are you wasting time reading blogs when you could be out there making a difference?!

A Letter From A Follower Regarding the EPISD Bond

From one of our followers regarding the EPISD Bond:

As an educator in the El Paso Independent School District, I acknowledge the need to address the long-neglected condition of our schools, and the need to add facilities to accommodate for students enrolled in Fine Arts and athletic programs.
However, the notion that buildings and technology are answers to improve educational outcomes dismisses the role of educators. Technology does not provide the necessary encouragement to a student who comes from a home whose parent has to work two jobs to make ends meet. A new building does not provide inspiration to a student who goes to bed hungry. The closure of neighborhood schools dismisses the concepts of child behavior development, and the sense of community. Pedagogical considerations are a forgone conclusion.
The vilification of our education system is a strategy utilized by special interest groups to de-fund public education, promote test-centered curriculum, and further widen the economic gap between the wealthy and poor.
Realizing that early voting is scheduled to start on October 24, it is necessary to provide the following information that may assist in determining whether to support or oppose the $668.7 million EPISD Bond.
The following links provide insight to some private interests that have funded the El Paso Rising political action committee, that may profit from the passage of the bond, whether through construction or financial consulting services:
A significant contributor to the El Paso Rising political action committee is Dee Margo. He is a former Texas State Representative whose legislative record includes the cutting of the Texas education budget to the tune of $5.4 billion in 2011. He then later served as a member of the EPISD Board of Managers, of whom initially authorized the Jacobs Engineering study, currently used to close and consolidate schools included in this EPISD bond.
The campaign finance reports, include folks who have contributed significant amounts of money to Texans for Education Reform, an organization seeking to dismantle public education, through the promotion of vouchers and charter schools.
A prevalent concern expressed in our community is the issue of trust. A way to restore it, would be the commitment by district officials to re-locate administrative operations to one of the schools proposed for closure, or to the portable classrooms in which our students are currently housed. Given the City of El Paso’s non-renewal of the lease for the administrative offices on Boeing, this would certainly be a tangible action. 
Please consider the education of our children and authentically engage in advocacy efforts.
Best Regards,

El Paso Run-Off Election Results

Early voting statistics were REALLY low with only 2.39% of registered voters voting.  Overall, 18,598 voters (4.55% of registered voters) voted in the run-off election. Here are the results from the races we were following:

Winners:

County Tax Assessor-Collector: Ruben Gonzalez (incumbent) beat Siria Rocha 53.66% to 46.34%.

District Attorney: Jaime Esparza (incumbent) barely beat Yvonne Rosales 51.3% to 48.7%.

Justice, 8th Court of Appeals: Gina M. Palafox beat Maria Ramirez 59.3% to 40.7%.

Congratulations to all the winners. You can see full election results by clicking here.

Early Voting In Run-Off Races Starts

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.

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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.”

esperanza

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

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

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

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.”

Maria

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.

 

850 People Have Voted in District 2

Early voting for the special election to replace Larry Romero in District 2 is over and the numbers are in:  850 people have voted.  According to KVIA, this election is costing the tax payers at least $40,000 and as much as $80,000 (if there is a run-off).  County Elections Administrator Lisa Wise estimates that as low as 2000 people are going to turn-out to vote, so taxpayers (all tax payers, not just District 2 tax payers), could be paying as high as $20 per vote.

Election day is this Saturday, May 7th.  To find your voting location, click here.  If you need a refresher on where the candidates stand, you can read our blog post about it here. Get out there, District 2 and vote!

 

4 People Have Now Filed For District 2

One more person has jumped into the race for the District 2 seat vacated by Romero:

Abraham Monteros (Photo Courtesy El Paso Times)

district2

Not much information out there about Mr. Monteros yet.  According to the El Paso Times, Abraham Monteros, 27, is a student and research assistant at the University of Texas at El Paso who will graduate from UTEP in May with a bachelor’s in philosophy and French, he also spent five years in the U.S. Navy and served in Guam and Japan. “I feel that it is important for the city to reach out to its citizens and include them in the democratic process. I feel that my number one priority is to educate our community and reach out and ask them for their input.”

District 2, who are you going to vote for?

Early voting is April 25th – May 3rd with election day on May 7th.

Lots of Voting in May

In May there are 3 run-off’s and a special election, and not all of that is happening on the same day.  So, for clarification, here are the dates and elections:

Special election to fill the District 2 spot vacated by Romero will be held on May 7th.  Currently there are 3 candidates for the position:  Jim Tolbert, David Nevarez and Angel Del Toro.  You can read our post about them here.  Your last day to register to vote, if you haven’t already, April 7th. Early voting is April 25 – May 3, 2016.

There are 3 run-offs that will be held on May 24th:

  1.  District Attorney – this is a race between incumbent Jaime Esparza and first-time candidate Yvonne Rosales.  You can read our previous posts about them here.
  2. Justice on the state’s Eighth Court of Appeals – this is a race between Gina Palafox and Maria Ramirez.  We realized that we had neglected to post on this race, so look for our post this week!
  3. 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.  You can read our previous posts about them here.

Your last day to register to vote for the May 24th election is April 25th.  Early voting is May 16-20, 2016. 

So get those voting fingers ready!  We’re giving you PLENTY of notice so you have no excuse.

You can read the El Paso Inc story about the run-offs here.

El Paso Election Results

So, the unofficial results are in.  84,460 people voted for a total of 21.09% in voter turn out. That means that less than a quarter of you who were registered voted.  Anyway, we are going to ignore the Presidential races because those received SO much coverage and, instead, are going to focus on the local races where we provided candidate information:

Winners:

Run Offs:

  • County Tax Assessor Collector: Ruben Gonzalez (incumbent) at 44.82% and Sira Rocha at 38.56% will run against each other again.
  • District Attorney: Jaime Esparza (incumbent) at 49.76% and Yvonne Rosales at 28.85% will run against each other again.
  • A runoff election will be May 24. Early voting starts May 16.

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to those who are still running. You can see full election results by clicking here.

 

26,232

26,232 – That is how many El Pasoans voted in early voting. How many of us are registered?  400,504.  That means that 6.5% of registered voters have voted.  That is an appalling turn out and, unless there is a HUGE rush to the polls on Tuesday, El Paso continues the tradition of having a small minority of people making decisions for the large majority.  Way to go, El Paso.

There is still time – March 1st is election day.  GET OUT THERE AND VOTE.  You can find your polling station by clicking here.