Who’s running for this seat?
Sergio Coronado, 62, is an attorney and a Canutillo Independent School District trustee.
Carl Robinson (incumbent), 75, has been County Commissioner since 2019 and previously was the District 4 representative on El Paso City Council.
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 and why are you the best candidate?
Sergio Coronado: I decided to run for this office because I am highly qualified, committed, and ready to serve. We need someone who is responsive to the constituents of Precinct 4. The incumbent has not been responsive or active in representing all of the constituents and unresponsive to the needs, problems, and concerns of the constituents. When a crisis hits our community like flooding, your current commissioner was absent. People in our community must resort to other government representatives for help. He has been consistently absent in attending meetings. You deserve better. I have a track record, as Trustee of the Canutillo Independent School District, in representing and overseeing a diverse constituency, and diverse economic groups.
Carl Robinson: I am running for this office to continue working for the residents of Precinct 4. My focus is to enhance infrastructure, improved quality of life and economic development in the county. I am the best qualified candidate because I have four-year experience, extensive knowledge, and desire to collaborate with the community to address their concerns and their issues. I am sensitive to their needs.
What efficiencies in county government would you support to minimize the need for tax increases?
Sergio Coronado: I would promote efficiencies in all our departments. Before we decide where we need to cut, if any, we need to audit certain functions to make sure we are efficient and in compliance with laws, regulations and county policies. The health care functions seem to have yearly budget increases, so we need to make sure the health care functions are operating efficiently. Additionally, we need to work on reducing the debt of the Children’s Hospital. See also answer to number 3.
Carl Robinson: We presently have a debt service that is lower than any other taxing entity in our region. I will continue to monitor our spending throughout the year to insure we stay at this level. As a Commissioner I will closely review our quarterly updates. That is the time to review closely and adjust our spending to minimize our debt.
Much of the county budget goes to the criminal justice system. How would you control costs for that system while ensuring public safety?
Sergio Coronado: One of the things we need to do is invest in our mental health care for constituents. Unless you are in dire need of help, it is difficult to get mental health care treatment. These individuals then end up in the criminal justice system and stress the resources of the criminal case load and the community supervision and corrections department. Additionally, many individuals on misdemeanor probation are on probation for petty, often non-violent offenses. Many do not have “bad criminal records” and often do not have a high school diploma or a trade. I think many of those individuals can be funneled into the “El Paso Promise” program that I would like to see our community develop.
Carl Robinson: For the last 20 years we have been one of the safest city/counties in the nation. Public safety enhances the growth and economic development of our region. It is imperative that we maintain adequate law enforcement officers who are well trained and equipped to serve our community. We have managed to give employees raises without increasing our tax burden. Every entity reflects that public safety is the largest budget item because it includes salaries, maintenance of facilities, latest equipment, and vehicles. By paying a competitive wage, we can retain our public safety members. In our annual strategic planning sessions we are able to closely review the Sheriff’s short- and long-term plan to address the needs to maintain adequate public safety.
Do you support further increasing County Judge and County Commissioner salaries? Please explain.
Sergio Coronado: I support Commissioner’s Court Salary increases be commensurate with County employee raises.
Carl Robinson: I strongly opposed the increase in salaries during this last budget session. I do not feel that we should get a pay raise without having public input.
What measures would you take as County Commissioner to increase income levels in El Paso County?
Sergio Coronado: Our Justices of the Peace are on the frontline of student dropouts and truancy. We need to establish a county-wide truancy program along with other local governments. There are resources available through the Governor’s office to assist us in this effort. Our probation department needs improvement in providing avenues for completion of high school diplomas and job training. In conjunction with our community college and other local governments we should establish “The El Paso Promise,” a program similar to one initiated in Dallas that is a coalition of school districts, colleges, universities, employers and local government that reduces barriers and supports students to succeed in college, careers and life with a commitment to securing a rewarding job in their career pathway.
Carl Robinson: To increase income levels in our county, we need to attract businesses that are at or higher than the county minimum wage which is presently at $13 an hour. The county employees benefit package along with their salary puts them in a competitive level.
What infrastructure projects would you support if elected?
Sergio Coronado: Our county needs to invest in upgrading our roads and provide solutions to the flooding problems. Additionally, we must upgrade our facilities to reduce the risk of communicable pathogens like Coronavirus. Additionally, we must invest in our County parks, water, sewer and waste management infrastructure.
Carl Robinson: When I am re-elected, flooding, drinking water, storm water, wastewater, and sewage will be my primary focuses for the unincorporated areas.
Read more about this race
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.
Dorothy “Sissy” Byrd said she will endorse her fellow Democratic competitor Sergio Coronado in the runoff against County Commissioner Carl Robinson following a competitive March 1 primary election.