The city has called for a special election to be held Dec. 9 to fill the District 2 seat vacated by city Rep. Alexsandra Annello, who must resign because she is running for state representative.
Annello announced that she will run for the office of Texas State Rep. District 77. The move triggered the “resign to run” law under the state constitution which requires that a special election be held to fill the vacancy within 120 days.
Resigning to run for another office occurs when an elected official states that they’re going to run for a different office prior to one year and 30 days from the end of their term. Annello was serving her second and final term as the District 2 representative set to expire at the end December 2024.
Annello said deciding to resign to seek the state office was one of the hardest decisions she has had to make. The move to announce came weeks after the City Council discussed the resign-to-run law during a Sept. 12 City Council meeting where deadlines and timeframes were discussed.
“It’s been who I am for so long – it’s been my greatest privilege in my life,” Annello said. “I’m doing what I believe is right. We need to make a lot of changes for this community and I want to continue to work for my community, and that’s why I’m running for this seat.”
Former El Paso County Commissioner Vince Perez also announced that he will run for the state representative seat being vacated by Lina Ortega. Annello and Perez will face off during the Democratic Party primary in March 2024.
Perez said he is running because District 77 needs a strong voice in Austin.
“I’m born and raised in this community. I was born and raised in House District 77 and I feel like House District 77 – it deserves good representation,” Perez said.
Perez served eight years as an El Paso County Commissioner and has been working as a government affairs consultant with VMP Consulting LLC.
The city council voted unanimously to approve the election to replace Annello. City Reps. Cassandra Hernandez and Henry Rivera were absent from the meeting. City Rep. Art Fierro was not present for the vote.
The special election is expected to cost the city about $275,000, a city official said.
City elected officials can serve two four-year terms and have a 10-year cap if a representative is elected to fill an unexpired four-year term.
Candidates who want to run to represent District 2, which largely covers Central El Paso and portions of the Northeast, will have until Oct. 30 to submit an application for a seat on the ballot.
The last time a special election was held to fill a vacated seat due to the resign-to-run law was when former city Rep. Claudia Ordaz resigned to run for state representative in October 2019. The city called for a special election to fill her seat in December 2019. Former city Rep. Claudia Rodriguez won the January 2020 special runoff election for the seat.
Prior to Ordaz Perez, a social media post that showed city Rep. Cassandra Hernandez in a bid to run for mayor also resulted in the resign-to-run provision. Hernandez maintained the August 2019 post was made public by a supporter and not intentional. The council called for a special election to replace Hernandez. Hernandez was reelected to her seat in the December 2019 runoff election.
The sprawling House District 77 largely covers Central El Paso, but the district stretches from West El Paso to near Socorro in the Lower Valley. The seat is currently held by State Rep. Lina Ortega, a Democrat who has represented El Paso’s District 77 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2017. In July, she announced that she will not seek re-election. Ortega is serving her fourth term.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that a special election was held to replace former city Rep. Claudia Ordaz.