LOADING

Type to search

Welcome to the El Paso Matters voters guide for the Dec. 12, 2020, runoff election for the city of El Paso.

Voters frequently express concerns that they don’t have enough information about candidates. This guide is meant to serve as an introduction to the candidates.

 

 

Click here to see  a sample ballot of runoff races. All registered voters within El Paso city limits can vote in the mayor and municipal court races. Only residents of City Council Districts 2 and 4 can vote in those races.

If you have any questions about the election process, go to the El Paso County Elections Department website or call them at 915-546-2154.

Follow our latest Election News here.

Early voting runs from Nov. 25-Dec. 8. Here are the early voting polling places and times.

Election Day polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the first time, you can vote at any polling place that is most convenient to you. Here are the Election Day polling places.

Candidate Profiles

We sent questionnaires to all candidates in contested  races. We sent several reminders when we didn’t get responses, even after deadlines passed. We asked the candidates to limit responses to 100 words. Responses are lightly edited for grammar.

Mayor

What the job entails: This mayor presides over City Council meetings and votes in case of a tie. The mayor also has power to veto actions of the City Council. Along with the council, the mayor develops policy for the city manager and city staff to execute. 

Who can vote: All registered voters in the city limits of El Paso

CandidatePhotoBackgroundHave you ever been arrested? If so, what was the outcome of the charge?Have you ever been sued? If so, what was the outcome of the lawsuit?Given decreased revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, what are your priorities for funding municipal services over the next two years?How has the city government performed in response to COVID-19? What changes in approach would you support?Public safety accounts for the bulk of the city’s budget. How would you approach public safety spending if elected?What role should the City Council play in national issues that directly impact El Paso, such as immigration, border security, international trade and gun violence?Why are you the best choice in this race?
Oscar LeeserAge: 62. Education: High School graduate. Occupation: President and Dealer/Operator of Hyundai of El Paso. Political and civic experience: Mayor of El Paso 2013-2017; Hyundai Sun Bowl and Sun Bowl Parade for over a decade; Founding member, El Paso Police Foundation; National Chair, Hope on Wheels.No. (FACT CHECK: County records show that Oscar Leeser was charged with misdemeanor harassment in 1994 and the charge was dismissed in 1995.)No.We are drowning in debt. Our City budget is almost a billion dollars. El Paso has more CO debt than any other city in Texas. CO’s don’t require taxpayer approval; they just require you to pay for them. It’s like using money for mortgage and car payments to build a pool and then borrowing money to make the payments. It’s a great way to go broke. Before turning to taxpayers we need to clean up our own house. It’s time to start a budget from zero with a review of every dollar instead of adding on top of the bloat of previous budgets.There is limited benefit in going backwards. The fact is COVID is here and will be here for a while. We have an added challenge as a border community. Until we get control of COVID, it will be difficult to satisfactorily address debt, taxes and jobs. Social distancing and masks are key to saving our economy so that El Pasoans are healthy, our businesses can fully reopen and our students can safely go back to school. The City has a responsibility to lead by example. We won’t see full economic recovery until people are comfortable that it is safe to resume activities.Creating an economy that works for everyone regardless of race, income or zip code requires a safe community. We must provide the necessary equipment and training for our valued public servants to safely do a difficult job while protecting the rights of all El Pasoans. Equipment has a predictable life expectancy and should be a regular budget item that includes short term financing to avoid having to play catch-up all at once. Developing strong trust between law enforcement and the public is key so that El Paso can continue to remain one of the safest large cities in America.We have the ability and the responsibility as a body to speak for El Paso and call attention to issues that affect the well-being of our community. We have the opportunity to use our platform to effectively communicate our unique needs to state and federal officials and agencies to maximize cooperation. We should always remain aware of any opportunities for local solutions.Due to this unique time, we must have someone as mayor who has demonstrated experience – someone who is ready to lead the city day 1; someone who has the courage to deal head-on with our debt; someone who is strong enough to balance pressure from investor interests with the needs of the taxpayers; someone who will not
Dee MargoDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respond

City Council District 2

What the job entails: El Paso has eight members of City Council, elected from single-member districts, who with the mayor set policies and pass ordinances that are executed by the city manager and city staff.

Who can vote: Registered voters in District 2, which encompasses West-Central El Paso and parts of East-Central El Paso north of Montana Avenue. See a map here or call the county elections office at 915-546-2154 to confirm that you can vote in this race.

CandidatePhotoBackgroundHave you ever been arrested? If so, what was the outcome of the charge?Have you ever been sued? If so, what was the outcome of the lawsuit?Given decreased revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, what are your priorities for funding municipal services over the next two years?How has the city government performed in response to COVID-19? What changes in approach would you support?Public safety accounts for the bulk of the city’s budget. How would you approach public safety spending if elected?What role should the City Council play in national issues that directly impact El Paso, such as immigration, border security, international trade and gun violence?Why are you the best choice in this race?
Miriam “Judy” GutierrezAge: 56. Education (include course of study and name of institution): EPCC, Associate’s in Accounting/Business/Economics. Occupation: Retired from the City of El Paso after 24 years of service. Political and civic experience: I have served as Assistant/Chief of Staff to the last four District 2 City Representatives; served under both City Managers, and five mayoral administrations. Board Member and Past President–Sun Up Optimist Club of Canutillo; Board Member– El Paso Sheriff’s Advisory Committee; Board Member–Central Regional Command Police Advisory Committee; Mentor–Big Brother Big Sister (officially from 2010-2013; continued mentoring 3 Littles to present day); Board Member and Past President – 5 Points Business AssociationNoNoMy priorities will be to safely and effectively protect El Pasoans from the virus by investing more in public education and contact tracing so that we can interrupt and contain the spread of COVID-19. I will also support children and families by investing in a far more holistic approach to child development that brings education to our parks, public transportation system, and other public facilities and expands free city wi-fi. I will also prioritize rebuilding a stronger economy with higher-paying, higher-quality jobs that will get El Pasoans back to work and improve our quality of life.Our local government has failed El Pasoans. It is critical for the city to expand contact tracing to interrupt the spread of COVID and contain the virus in our community. Council should also hold the City Manager accountable for the delay in hiring a Director of Public Health – a position needed to improve coordination and communication with the El Paso County government. We also need to investigate testing delays, and push for more sites to open across the city to make testing more accessible to communities who need it the most. We need to hold the governor and our state agencies accountable for their lack of response.I would improve the hiring process of police officers by thoroughly screening recruits for any history of violence or discrimination. We need to expand the training and investment in anti-racism, mediation, crisis management, and supporting survivors of violence and assault. Our community also needs more investment in homelessness prevention, mental health services, substance abuse, domestic violence, food insecurity, universal pre-k, afterschool programs, and the arts. Investing in such programs would address some of the safety challenges in our community before our police officers are forced to respond to them. This investment process would be gradual in order to ensure adequate levels of protection within our existing infrastructure.Our border community is impacted by federal issues and we have a moral obligation to not only be part of but lead the dialogue. We know first-hand the difficulties faced by parents trying to give their children a better life in the U.S. We know we can have safe communities on the border because immigrants make our region great. We know what it is like when you have to wait 4 hours on the bridges after a family visit or when your business is relying on international products to cross over quickly. I will work with our federal leaders to promote policy that reflects our border values.As the only Latina in the race, the only candidate born and raised in El Paso and District 2, and the only candidate with 24 years of public service, I am ready to lead on the issues we’ve been working on together. I have the character and temperament for the job. These last 15 years, I have dedicated my heart and soul to District 2 and the neighbors who make our city a borderland gem. District 2 has not had a Latina representative in over 20 years and it is past time for our elected officials to reflect our community.
Alexsandra AnnelloAge: 36. Education Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Communication, The University of Texas at El Paso. Occupation: City Representative District 2. Political and civic experience: Taught and wrote grants for an educational non-profit, S.I.T.E.S in Marfa, Texas, and wrote scholarship grants to create opportunities and create a more inclusive environment for Marfa International School. Campaigned for public office of El Paso City Representative.I was charged with a misdemeanor in 2009, charges were dropped.No.I intend to hold myself, local leaders, and staff accountable in my next term in order to reduce wasteful spending and ensure that we can continue to fund important public priorities such as street and sidewalk improvements, our parks, recreation centers, transportation, and public safety. I want to ensure that we can maintain our staff who do such important work, and reduce the number of bonuses for our highest paid administrators who make more than six figure salaries. I think it is very important to realize that Economic Development is going to look very different in the coming years, it is important that we are utilizing our impact fund to help and grow our local businesses.The city’s first responders and public safety personnel have performed a great job in ensuring our community understands how to combat COVID-19 and that we can maintain greater public health standards. I am less than happy with the city’s lack of public health enforcement that businesses must maintain to reduce further outbreaks of this virus. I would support robust enforcement of public health measures recommended by the CDC and health experts which would greatly reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths that our community has seen. This would include warnings followed by citations for businesses who fail to maintain imperative health measures.I would seek to continue funding the Crisis Intervention Team with our police force, which pairs mental health professionals with police officers responding to calls to people who are experiencing a mental health emergency. I have been a champion for community policing and have taken action on assisting officers in reaching their goals and outcomes in resources to keep our community safe. I identified and will continue to identify money to secure funds for more equipment and better facilities for our police department. I further support more Police Academy classes to increase the number of officers on the street. I also believe we need to be seeking grants to enhance community relationships, like the PAL program.City Council should play a large role in national issues as we are among the largest border communities on the planet. City Council members witness firsthand national issues related to border and trade issues on a daily basis, making us far better experts than bureaucrats and elected officials in Austin, Texas, or Washington, D.C., who do not understand our community needs. City Council must be the face and voice on these national items in order to develop sound national and state policies. We must network more with national organizations in order to elevate our voice. The policies set during COVID-19 are perfect examples.I am the best choice for this office as I have the administrative, policy, and diplomatic skills to conduct the work associated with public service. Over my years in office and in the community, I have the constituent and business relationships necessary to make sound policy and business decisions. I have spent my time in office being the voice of the people and fighting with them. I further have the financial management skills required to oversee the city’s large budget and tax rate through my years of work in nonprofits, the film industry, and education. I also conduct policy research myself, making me an exceptional candidate for this position who knows the policy goals firsthand as well as having the necessary skills to promote, debate, and defend those goals.

City Council District 4

What the job entails: El Paso has eight members of City Council, elected from single-member districts, who with the mayor set policies and pass ordinances that are executed by the city manager and city staff.

Who can vote: Registered voters in District 4, which encompasses Northeast El Paso. See a map here or call the county elections office at 915-546-2154 to confirm that you can vote in this race.

CandidatePhotoBackgroundHave you ever been arrested? If so, what was the outcome of the charge?Have you ever been sued? If so, what was the outcome of the lawsuit?Given decreased revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic, what are your priorities for funding municipal services over the next two years?How has the city government performed in response to COVID-19? What changes in approach would you support?Public safety accounts for the bulk of the city’s budget. How would you approach public safety spending if elected?What role should the City Council play in national issues that directly impact El Paso, such as immigration, border security, international trade and gun violence?Why are you the best choice in this race?
Sam MorganDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respond
Joe MolinarAge: 60. Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration. Park University. Occupation: Retired law enforcement professional with 28 years of dedicated public service to include police officer, police detective (Homicide and Internal Affairs Division), police sergeant, police lieutenant (patrol shift commander and Crimes Against Children commander). Political and civic experience: My political experience includes volunteering for other candidates in municipal and county elections. My civic experience includes current president of the Castner Heights Neighborhood Association (CHNA), first and past president of the General Maloney Neighborhood Association, member of the El Paso Neighborhood Coalition (EPNC), current sergeant at arms for the Northeast Business Alliance, Neighborhood Watch Block Captain, volunteer at First Presbyterian Christian Preschool, volunteer at Whitaker Elementary School, past PTA president at Whitaker Elementary School, Campus Improvement Team at Whitaker Elementary School, safety and security advisor for the UTEP Theta Chi fraternity, volunteer at Flags Across America, volunteer at Veterans at Breakfast, member of Save of Sierras, volunteer for Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, Northeast Substance Abuse Coalition.NoNoMy priorities for funding municipal services over the next two years include increased business and commercial taxes by enticing world-class businesses to begin or relocate to El Paso without lucrative tax abatements or incentives; working with the El Paso Central Appraisal District of both residential and commercial properties to ensure fair and reasonable property tax appraisals; seeking revenue from unpaid citations (arrest warrants, traffic citations, fines, fees, etc.)I believe the city of El Paso did its best possible at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as time and the pandemic continued, a more assertive approach should have been initiated to include the closing of additional businesses, reduced operating hours, the cancellation of events, etc. I support the release of COVID-19 cluster areas in order to help the public make informed decisions if they desire to patronize these businesses or visit these locations by themselves or their families. We’re still waiting for this information. I don’t support electronic contact tracing because it’s too personally intrusive.Having worked as a police officer through lieutenant with the El Paso Police Department, I would leave the spending of public funds up to Chief of Police Greg Allen and his top management/administrative staff. I believe Chief Allen has been doing an exceptional job in keeping El Paso and its citizens safe since December of 2007. El Paso remains a safe large population city in our country. An effective police department should be properly trained, properly supervised, well equipped and respected by the community it serves.I believe the El Paso City Council role should remain a municipal role and not play a federal role in immigration, border security, international trade and gun violence. Nevertheless, all four topics directly affect our border region so we must have effective communication with our border governments, civic, business and legislative leaders.I’m the best District 4 candidate because I care deeply about Northeast El Paso. I have many years life experience in Northeast El Paso. I have personally experienced the neglect and the bad reputation/ image that is perceived by others with Northeast El Paso. I understand the needs and wants of Northeast citizens to include businesses, restaurants, entertainment, hotels, etc. I don’t own any businesses, I’m not aligned with any political parties, I’m not a student, I’m retired and once elected into office, I’m prepared to be a full-time city representative.

Municipal Court 4

What the job entails: El Paso Municipal Court judges preside over courts of record that handle Class C misdemeanors and civil parking citations issued within the city limits.

Who can vote: All registered voters in the city limits of El Paso.

CandidatePhotoBackgroundHave you ever been arrested? If so, what was the outcome of the charge?Have you ever been sued? If so, what was the outcome of the lawsuit?How will you improve efficiency in the municipal court, minimizing the cost to taxpayers while ensuring quality service?Many people with municipal court dates never show up, creating a backlog of cases. What will you do to address this issue?Many people with misdemeanors are unable to pay fines, leading them to serve jail time. Should municipal courts provide more alternatives to incarceration for those unable to pay?Why are you the best choice for judge in this election?Who is the jurist you most admire, and why?
Lillian Elena BlancasDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respond
Enrique Alonso HolguinDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respondDid not respond

Municipal Court of Appeals

What the job entails: The El Paso Municipal Court of Appeals, which has one judge, hears appeals filed from the El Paso Municipal Courts.

Who can vote: All registered voters in the city limits of El Paso.

CandidatePhotoBackgroundHave you ever been arrested? If so, what was the outcome of the charge?Have you ever been sued? If so, what was the outcome of the lawsuit?What are the most important attributes for a municipal appeals court judge?How will you improve efficiency in the municipal court, minimizing the cost to taxpayers while ensuring quality service?Why are you the best choice for judge in this election?Who is the jurist you most admire, and why?
Maria RamirezAge: 57. Education: I am a proud graduate of the El Paso public school system. I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. I have a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Indiana University School of Law. Political and civic experience: I have been involved with the El Paso Municipal Court as an Assistant City Prosecutor, Associate Judge and in 2001 I was elected as Judge, Municipal Court Judge No. 1, and served in that capacity until 2016.NoI was sued by a man who had been sued by a woman I represented who was seeking unpaid child support in family court. After failing to comply with the Court’s conditions, the man was arrested. He filed a lawsuit against me which was subsequently dismissed by Judge Patrick Garcia.A municipal court of appeals judge should have knowledge of the law, and be just, fair and impartial.While serving as Judge of Municipal Court 1, I advocated for the courts to be paperless because every day I was handed a voluminous paper docket. I advocated for new software designed for paperless dockets, electronic signatures and the use of email that would reduce not only our carbon footprint but save taxpayers money. Appellate decisions should be made fairly and quickly while balancing the rights of the City of El Paso and the Defendant. Government should be transparent and therefore, the laws and rules which govern appeals as well as appellate decisions should be posted and available to the public on the city of El Paso website.I have served the citizens of El Paso since 1989 as an attorney with El Paso Legal Aid, an Assistant County Attorney, an Assistant Public Defender, an Assistant City Prosecutor, an Associate Judge and an elected Municipal Court Judge. I have litigation and appellate experience in both state and federal court. I do not believe my opponents possess my range of experience.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as the notorious RBG. Justice Ginsburg made it possible for half of my law school class to be female while 30 years before, Justice Ginsberg was one of only three women in her law school class.
Rebecca TarangoAge: 49. Education: UTEP, BBA in Accounting, JD from Yale Law School. Occupation: Prosecutor currently. Will be in private practice in 2021. Political and civic experience: I have never run for office before, but I have worked very hard on past political campaigns that I believed were of consequence to our community.NoNoAmong the most important qualities of a municipal appellate judge are discernmentI would continue my practice of making the best and most effective use of my time, and would be able take a fresh look at the inner workings of the office of judge of the Municipal Court of Appeals. This perspective as an outsider would allow me to see where and how processes could be improved.I have a strong sense of responsibility, I am a hard worker and a quick learner, and I have 20 years of experience as a public servant, working to see that justice is done.