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Coronavirus Election Featured

El Paso runoff candidate in Saturday’s election dies after battle with COVID-19

Dec. 12 update: Lillian Blancas won the runoff election for Municipal Court 4. City Council will appoint someone to fill out her four-year term.

Lillian Blancas, an El Paso attorney who is in a runoff for a municipal judgeship, died Monday while hospitalized with COVID-19. She was 47.

The El Paso Bar Association announced her death in an email.

Blancas became ill with COVID-19 in late October and was hospitalized a couple of weeks later, said Heather Hall, an attorney who worked with her at the Public Defender’s Office and later shared office space when they opened private practices.

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She was released from the hospital at one point but then returned as her condition worsened again, Hall said.

“She was brilliant, hilarious, kind and generous. And she was one of those attorneys that you would go to if you had questions about the law or about how to handle a case correctly,” Hall said.

Blancas is survived by her mother, Maria; her sister, Gabriela Blancas Tiemann; her brothers, Victor X. Blancas Jr. and Moises I. Blancas; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Victor X. Blancas Sr.

Blancas finished first in a three-way race Nov. 3 for the Municipal Court 4 bench, winning 40% of the vote. Because no candidate won a majority of votes, she faces Enrique Alonso Holguin in Saturday’s runoff election.

She opened her own law practice last year after several years working for the El Paso County Public Defender’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. While at the Public Defender’s Office, she represented clients accused of capital murder, among the most challenging cases an attorney can handle, Hall said.

Blancas also worked part-time as a magistrate judge. She was a graduate of Burges High School, the University of Texas at El Paso and the Texas Tech University School of Law.

If Blancas wins the runoff,  the City Council would appoint a person to fill the position.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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