The race to represent El Paso County Commissioners Precinct 4 has drawn several candidates from both sides of the aisle hoping to unseat incumbent Carl Robinson, a Democrat.
Robinson’s Democratic opponents — his first hurdle to getting onto the November general election ballot — have taken aim at his attendance and have said if they are elected they will be physically present at El Paso County Commissioners Court meetings and available to constituents. Robinson is vying for his second term.
Robinson, 75, faces Dorothy “Sissy” Byrd, 64, and Sergio Coronado, 62, in the March 1 Democratic primary. Byrd unsuccessfully ran in 2020 to represent El Paso City Council District 4, a seat Robinson held from 2009 to 2017. Coronado, an attorney and Canutillo Independent School District trustee, unsuccessfully ran for county judge in 2006 and 2010.
Coronado said he doesn’t think Robinson has been into the job 100% over these last years.
“We need someone who is responsive to the constituents of Precinct 4,” Coronado said. “The incumbent has not been responsive or active in representing all of the constituents of Precinct 4 and unresponsive to the needs, problems and concerns of the constituents.”
Precinct 4 covers Northwest and Northeast El Paso. During the county’s redistricting process, the precinct lost portions of West El Paso.
Coronado said Robinson has been consistently absent from meetings, a criticism Robinson said is unwarranted.
“That’s their platform, ‘Carl Robinson is sick, he’s not capable of fulfilling his job, he doesn’t go to work because he is sick,’” Robinson said. “No, Carl Robinson is not sick. Do I have some issues? Yes, I have some issues, but who doesn’t?”
Robinson did not elaborate on these “issues.” He maintained that his attendance record matches the majority of the people serving on the commissioners court.
A review of county records shows Robinson has been absent four times from County Commissioners Court since they resumed meeting in-person on Sept. 13, 2021 — the most out of the court’s other members. County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Commissioner Carlos Leon have been absent once during the same timeframe, while Commissioners Iliana Holguin and David Stout have not missed a meeting.
Robinson has twice attended via videoconference, as have other members.
The commissioners court meets weekly and sets budget and policy directives for county government. Commissioners earn $114,901 annually.
“We need a county commissioner that will attend meetings and be the voice for our community,” Byrd said. “When our county commissioner is not in a meeting then we have no voice and our choice(s) are taken away.”
Robinson said any assertion that he is not able to do his job is “political rhetoric.”
“To clear the air, my opponents are putting stuff out there that isn’t true,” Robinson said, adding he has unfinished business on commissioners court.
Robinson expressed confidence he will win the March 1 Democratic primary and will go on to defeat the Republican candidate in the November general election.
He said he’s unsure whether he’d run for a third term. County commissioners do not have term limits.
“I’ll get to it (that decision) when I get to it, but don’t put me in the graveyard or in a can and say that ‘he’s done’ — I’m not done,” Robinson said. “I’ve got work to do and I will continue doing work for this community to the best of my ability.”
Four Republicans are vying to represent Precinct 4, which had been Republican-held from 1995 to 2017.
Those candidates are David Adams, 52, a political newcomer and construction business owner; Adam Fatuch, 41, who works in retail; Victor Navarette, 47, who works for a national auto glass company; and Blanca Trout, 50, a Canutillo ISD trustee.
If no candidate receives a majority of votes in the primary, a runoff will be conducted in May between the top two finishers.
Early voting runs from Feb. 14 through Feb. 25.
Cover photo: The main entrance to the El Paso County Courthouse on Feb. 2. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)