Sergio Coronado, who is challenging incumbent El Paso County Commissioner Carl Robinson to represent Precinct 4, says ensuring constituents on both sides of the mountain are heard is key and says more needs to be done to help resolve county flooding.
The two candidates live on opposing sides of the precinct that covers portions of West, Northwest and Northeast El Paso.
Coronado, 62, lives in the Canutillo area, and Robinson, 75, lives in Northeast El Paso. There are about 20 precincts in the Northeast portion of the boundary and 31 on the West and Northwest side.
“Unfortunately, the precinct is almost completely divided by the mountain,” Coronado said. “It’s just a challenge that I have to travel completely over the mountain, but it’s nothing difficult — it’s just a matter of driving.”
Robinson, who has served as county commissioner since 2019, declined an interview request for this article.
Coronado said he plans to have community meetings regularly on both sides of the precinct and has campaigned on providing more responsive representation to constituents. He said part of his plan includes meeting with community groups on both sides of the precinct.
His recent campaign mailer states, “In March, voters sent a clear message: More than 65% voted for change and want a more effective leader for county commissioner.”
Coronado finished with a narrow lead over Robinson in the March 1 Democratic primary election with 38.1% of the total votes. Robinson had 34.9% — a 313-vote difference. A third candidate, Sissy Byrd, received 27% of the votes.
Coronado and Robison will face off in the May 24 primary runoff election.
The winner will face the Republican candidate in the November general election. Republican candidates Blanca Trout and David Adams are in the runoff election for the Precinct 4 seat.
Robinson has publicly criticized Coronado, a member of the Canutillo Independent School District Board of Trustees, for his response to the flooding in the Canutillo area that occurred in August 2021, but Coronado said city and county flooding issues are not under the purview of school districts.
Coronado said that while school facilities are built to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency flooding requirements, school boards have no authority beyond that to address flooding in the area.
“They’re (the school board) are not responsible, nor is the district responsible for county-wide flooding issues. That is the purview of municipal, county, state and federal governments,” Coronado said.
Coronado said the school districts rely on the city and county to provide services such as water, sewage, flood protection, roads and bridges.
“The purview (of the school board) is the education of children. We have very limited resources as it is and we count on our elected officials like the county and the city to be able to provide and do those protections,” he said.
Coronado said he wants all of the government agencies, including the city and state, to work together with the county to resolve flooding infrastructure needs for the long term. He admits he is not an expert on how to resolve the issue, but said he would rely on county engineers and experts to help develop a plan to address infrastructure needs.
After the flooding in the Canutillo area, Robinson placed an item on the Commissioners Court agenda to push for flood control measures. The move resulted, in part, in the purchasing of four high-capacity vacuum trucks for $2 million that the county received in February.
Robinson highlights the effort on his campaign mailers.
“During my first term in office, I have focused on finding a solution to remedy the flooding frequently experienced by residents of Canutillo, Westway, Vinton and the Upper Valley,” Robinson’s mailer reads. “I led the initiative on Commissioners Court to purchase high-capacity vacuum trucks, a $2 million dollar investment, which will allow the county to remove standing water more effectively from our roadways after a heavy rain event.”
Coronado said the move just places a band-aid on the issue and does not address the infrastructure needs. He questions why it took Robinson three years into his term to push for flood mitigation in the area.
“My position is yeah, we need them (the new water pumping trucks) every time it floods, but that’s not a permanent solution. This (purchase) has been reactionary,” Coronado said.
According to county documents in 2010, the county developed a stormwater master plan that identified 54 major stormwater projects. The plan was updated in 2021, which brought the number of projects to 70 after the Montana area was added.
Early voting for the May 24 primary runoff begins May 16 and ends May 20.