Who’s running for this seat?
Ida Baeza Gardner, 52, is a part-time municipal judge for the Town of Anthony.
Crystal Urquidi, 36, is an administrative specialist for the Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2.
El Paso Matters sent questionnaires to every candidate in a contested primary race to help you decide who you want to represent you. Candidates were asked to limit their responses to 100 words. Responses have been lightly edited for grammar and to fit the word count.
Why are you running for this office?
Baeza Gardner: I believe the Justice of the Peace Court is the court of the people. I want to be the Justice of that court. I have worked in the court system since 1990, in that time I have learned the needs of this community. My promise to this community is to continue to dispense justice fairly, respectfully, and properly while upholding the Constitution and the laws of the State of Texas.
Urquidi: Running for office is one the hardest endeavors one will ever undertake. I am seeking election for Justice of the Peace PCT#7 to work hard and give 100%. I have worked in a JP court for over 11 years and have gained firsthand knowledge of the court system. I wish to contribute my knowledge with my constituents and I feel a Justice of the Peace is a position for the people by the people.
What legal education, training, or experience, if any, do you have?
Baeza Gardner: I have 31 years of experience in the court system and 13 years as a judge. I have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, 25 years of yearly training from the Texas Justice Court Training Center, and 13 years of yearly training from the Texas Municipal Court Training Center.
Urquidi: I have had the pleasure of working as a master clerk and office supervisor within another JP office for several years. I have the training and experience both at a clerk and supervisory level. My work ethic along with my yearly training with the Texas Justice Court Training Center has given vital information to assist me in my daily work assignments and also provides me knowledge regarding statutes and/or new laws related to the justice court. It has also provided me with useful information in assisting constituents that file cases within the JP court.
Why are you the best candidate in this race?
Baeza Gardner: First and foremost, I know that I am a public servant and as an elected official this position would not put me on a power trip, which in my opinion is very important. Secondly, I am a people person and I am a hard worker. Thirdly, working at the Justice of the Peace office for 25 years as an office manager I learned how justice can be dispensed fairly, respectfully, and properly.
Urquidi: I am the best candidate in this race for the simple fact that I am a master clerk and supervisor already in a JP office, I understand what the workload entails as a clerk and what decisions need to be made at a supervisory level. I feel like one who has experience in both levels will only truly understand that an efficient court starts with the clerks that handle your case filings.
What actions will you take, if elected, to reduce the number of evictions in your precinct?
Baeza Gardner: I am well aware of evictions cases having a time period and the importance of these cases having to get heard during the time period. If elected, every case will be heard on time while upholding the laws of the State of Texas.
Urquidi: If elected to office, there isn’t a way to reduce the amount of evictions filed within the precinct. We as a court need to remain neutral and fair to all parties involved. But I would definitely readily have brochures for community and outreach programs that assist in this type of case for both landlords and tenants. This may possibly assist both parties without the need of coming to court.
How will you improve court operations and dispose of your caseload efficiently?
Baeza Gardner: Having been an office manager for 25 years in the Justice of the Peace Court I know the clerical part, and as a Judge I know the bench part of the job which in turn helps efficiently and effectively to adjudicate the cases.
Urquidi: Most importantly there has to be a great working relationship with both the court and constable’s office. This only maximizes efficiency for both offices and all constituents that are needing the services of the JP court. In order to efficiently dispose of cases I plan on making my elected position my full priority along with being a fulltime Judge. I plan to closely work with my clerks to efficiently accept and dispose cases in a timely manner as allowed by the statutes. Yearly training for all court clerks will definitely be mandatory.
Would you place self-imposed term limits on your tenure if elected?
Baeza Gardner: Yes, only if the moment came that I could not do the job. If an elected official is doing their job correctly and effectively, the turnover rate only hurts the public we serve.
Urquidi: I honestly would not self-impose term limits. Within my term(s) elected to office my staff and I would make sure we are learning new information, skills and processes. We will stay motivated and adapt to any changes. We will make a positive impact and finish the job that we are attempting to achieve. We will grow our network by working with other JP courts and court clerks. Imposed terms may inhibit the efficiency one seeks.