Here’s where I stand.

Why are you running for Mayor?

I’m running because I’m deeply concerned about the direction of the city.
The debt accumulation we have is unsustainable. We were already deeply in debt before COVID…now we are even more so.

The City of El Paso is more than $2 billion dollars in debt.  One in 10 El Pasoans is without a job. We have more people than ever in food lines. Renters are falling behind and facing evictions.  Furloughed workers are still waiting to see if their jobs comeback. Property taxes continue to rise and population growth is virtually stagnant.
These are serious danger signs.

There’s a lot of reckless spending. Today, El Paso has more Certificate of Obligation debt than any other city in Texas.  Certificates of Obligation do not require taxpayer approval but are paid by taxpayers and were originally meant to fund shortfalls or emergencies. Today, instead of buckling down with a focus on fiscal solvency we are using budget gimmicks…passing Certificates of Obligation for cost over-runs on quality-of-life issues and regular maintenance and operational items.

It’s like knowing you have a mortgage, a car payment and college tuition to pay but deciding, ”I’m going to use that money for a new pool and outdoor kitchen,” then taking out new loans to make the payments for the mortgage, the car and the college tuition.  It’s a great way to go broke.

Still, I believe there are solutions for most of our problems. They aren’t always easy and they aren’t always popular…but a lot of problems can be solved with common sense and an attitude of cooperation. Most problems are manageable. It is the job of your elected officials to manage them.

Why are you running for Mayor?

I’m running because I’m deeply concerned about the direction of the city.  
The debt accumulation we have is unsustainable. We were already deeply in debt before COVID…now we are even more so. 

The City of El Paso is more than $2 billion dollars in debt.  One in 10 El Pasoans is without a job. We have more people than ever in food lines. Renters are falling behind and facing evictions.  Furloughed workers are still waiting to see if their jobs comeback. Property taxes continue to rise and population growth is virtually stagnant.
These are serious danger signs.

There’s a lot of reckless spending. Today, El Paso has more Certificate of Obligation debt than any other city in Texas.  Certificates of Obligation do not require taxpayer approval but are paid by taxpayers and were originally meant to fund shortfalls or emergencies. Today, instead of buckling down with a focus on fiscal solvency we are using budget gimmicks…passing Certificates of Obligation for cost over-runs on quality-of-life issues and regular maintenance and operational items. 

It’s like knowing you have a mortgage, a car payment and college tuition to pay but deciding, ”I’m going to use that money for a new pool and outdoor kitchen,” then taking out new loans to make the payments for the mortgage, the car and the college tuition.  It’s a great way to go broke.

Still, I believe there are solutions for most of our problems. They aren’t always easy and they aren’t always popular…but a lot of problems can be solved with common sense and an attitude of cooperation. Most problems are manageable. It is the job of your elected officials to manage them.

What did you accomplish as Mayor?

El Paso has a lot to offer, but we are not the first name selection firms and Fortune 500 companies think of.  As Mayor, I took our story directly to the decision makers.  During my term I created 5,365 jobs and retained another 7,730.  Job retention is important because if you’re losing existing jobs, job creation numbers don’t give you a real picture.

I instituted “Hire El Paso First” because we want businesses to locate within El Paso, but it is also important to our economy and work force that local companies be considered as a purchasing preference for bids and contracts.  I amended and improved the zoning application process to ensure that people receive sufficient notification to respond. I prioritized lowering bridge wait times to help increase bi-national traffic and commerce.  I restructured and accelerated debt service that saved millions of dollars.  I created the first “no kill” animal shelter.      

I successfully negotiated with ballpark ownership to pay additional costs up front. It is important to have a Mayor strong enough to balance pressure from investor interests with the needs of the taxpayers. 

Why no second term?

I did not seek a second term for mayor due to serious health issues. Thankfully, today I am a cancer survivor.

What will your 3 priorities be when you become our Mayor?

COVID 
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. 

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 start a budget from zero with a review of every dollar instead of just adding on top of the bloat of previous budgets.

REALIGNMENT OF CITY MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES. 
In the 15 years since the City Manager position was created Council has continued to expand the power and scope of responsibilities of the city manager. The signatory authority of the City Manager has grown and grown and grown. The Police Chief reports to the city manager. The Fire Chief reports to the City Manager. The City Manager can no longer be fired for lying to Council. It’s definitely time to review and realign City Manager responsibilities with the original intent … to provide continuity… not create a kingdom. Those changes will require conversation with Council and the community at large and, ultimately, a Charter election. I would support that. I think it’s imperative.

What about the Quality of Life Bond projects (Children's Museum, Hispanic Cultural Center and Multi-Purpose Center/Arena)?

Back in 2012, just before my mayoral term, the citizens of El Paso voted to approve quality of life bonds. The voters approved a Multi-purpose Cultural Arts Center. We have a responsibility to provide that. The cost of construction was dramatically underestimated.  Maintenance and operations were not taken into account.  And COVID has changed everything. Revenues have crashed. We don’t yet know what the full impact will be on our financials.

Today, our City budget is almost a billion dollars and we are $2 billion dollars in debt. El Paso has more CO debt than any other city in Texas.  Considering the unsustainable burden of debt that we now carry we have to be very careful moving forward. We have to put a hold on any major capital expenditures for now.

We are seeing massive cost over-runs on Quality of Life projects that the current administration has covered by sacrificing regularly budgeted items, and using that money for Quality of Life cost over-runs which is bad, but even worse, they’ve issued Certificates of Obligation (which as a taxpayer you don’t approve…but you pay for) to cover additional cost.  I absolutely do not agree with the use of Certificates of Obligation for Quality of Life projects.  Call it cost over-runs, poor planning or lack of accountability it still ends up on the back of the taxpayers.

I believe we should be investing that QOL money in the Civic Center and the Abraham Chavez Theater – one of the jewels of our downtown.  The Civic Center was built in the 70s and was supposed to be built in two phases.  El Paso never did Phase 2. We need a convention center and theater that support today’s technological and technical needs so we have a high quality performing arts center that can attract first rate events and conventions. We have had major investments in hotels downtown and all over the city.  That is how we fill them up.

What is your opinion on the use of eminent domain?

I do not support the use of eminent domain for Quality of Life issues…ever.

How are you going to restore fiscal solvency?

We have a City budget that has blown up to almost a billion dollars.  We must reduce wasteful spending.  Before turning to taxpayers we need to clean up our own house.

Rather than arbitrary budget cuts or dire slash and burn measures, my first step would be to start a budget from zero with a review of every dollar, instead of building on top of the bloat of previous budgets.  That means a rigorous review of every dollar in the budget to eliminate unproductive waste and create a culture of cost-management, which is a basic responsibility we hold to the taxpayers. 

What will you do to make El Paso an easier place in which to do business with respect to regulations, permits and the like?

The most basic responsibilities of your City Government are police, fire and streets.  To do that well means prudent fiscal oversight and planning for maintenance and growth.  Today, we are drowning in debt.

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.  A healthier local economy means less dependence on hidden taxes like permits and fees.

What will you do to make El Paso an easier place in which to do business with respect to regulations, permits and the like?

The most basic responsibilities of your City Government are police, fire and streets.  To do that well means prudent fiscal oversight and planning for maintenance and growth.  Today, we are drowning in debt. 

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.  A healthier local economy means less dependence on hidden taxes like permits and fees.

What do you think of the job performance of our current City Manager?

In the 15 years since the City Manager position was created, City Council has continued to expand the power and scope of responsibilities of the position. The signatory authority of the City Manager has grown and grown and grown. The Police Chief reports to the City Manager. The Fire Chief reports to the City Manager. The City Manager can no longer be fired for lying to Council. 

It’s definitely time to review and realign City Manager responsibilities with the original intent … to provide continuity… not create a kingdom. Those changes will require conversations with Council and the community at large and, ultimately, a Charter election. I would support that. I think it’s imperative.

What about the release of COVID cluster information?

I believe that El Pasoans have the right to make informed decisions about where they go. The state law allows for the release of statistical information about clusters including the number of infectious disease cases at a specific location (that does not identify individuals).  I support the release of cluster information. 

COVID is here and will be here for a while.  Until we get control of COVID, it will be difficult to satisfactorily address debt, taxes and jobs.  We have an added challenge as a border community.  Social distancing, masks and hand-washing  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.

What are your plans or priorities for future economic development?

It’s more cost-effective to first work to stop the loss of existing jobs.  Job retention is important because if you’re losing existing jobs, job creation numbers don’t give you a real picture.  We have a responsibility to help retain jobs and support growth of businesses and owners, large and small, that have already invested in our community. Today, many have been hurt by COVID.  

Proactively targeting likely prospects to invest in El Paso has to be a constant on-going effort that includes coordinating with UTEP and EPCC to make sure we have the ability to provide the training for incoming jobs.

Public safety accounts for the bulk of the city’s budget. How would you approach public safety spending if elected?

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 necessary 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 and should be a regular budget item that includes a small annual roll over 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. 

How would you describe your commitment to governmental transparency?

I will not conduct public business using personal email or texts. Transparency also applies to contracts and procurement, economic development, public pensions and debt obligations. 

Transparency engenders trust and trust is necessary if we are to gain the necessary cooperation from the community to soldier through COVID toward financial recovery. As an example, I advocate for the release of information on COVID clusters.  I think each El Pasoan should be respected to make decisions about where they go with full information. 

What is your plan to stop the brain drain and recruit expats?

Expats often bring back new ideas and new solutions.  We make them part of the solution.  But if wages are lower… if jobs are fewer… if you can’t afford to buy a home because taxes are through the roof …we’ve got three strikes against us right away.  Debt affects everything and job loss has disproportionately affected younger people. 

People are fleeing taxes as we speak.  To get control of taxes you have to get control of debt.  If we don’t control our debt it won’t matter what our economic plan is.  It will affect incentives to attract businesses.  It will affect roads, police and fire. 

The next Mayor must have the experience and the will to face this fiscal crisis, scrutinize every aspect of the budget and rein in expenditures beyond necessities.  We don’t have time to stumble out of the block.  We have to deal with this now because it gets very draconian if we don’t.

How will you engender cooperation between El Paso and Juarez?

Our economies are tied together.  At our best we work toward initiatives that are good for both our cities, for our bi-national families and to preserve the unique culture that makes El Paso/ Juarez so special.

Why are you the best person for the job?

I am deeply concerned about the direction of our City.  Our City budget is almost a billion dollars and we are $2 billion dollars in debt. El Paso has more Certificate of Obligation debt than any other city in Texas.   Property taxes continue to rise.  Population growth is virtually stagnant. These are serious danger signs.

Considering the unsustainable burden of debt that we now carry we have to be very careful moving forward.  The next Mayor faces a serious fiscal crisis.  

Still, I believe there are solutions for most of our problems. They aren’t always easy and they aren’t always popular …but a lot of problems can be solved with common sense and an attitude of cooperation. Most problems are manageable. It is the job of your elected officials to manage them. 

Due to this unique time, we must have someone as Mayor who has demonstrated experience. I am ready to lead the City day one.  I am committed to deal head-on with our debt.  I have the strength and judgment to balance pressure from investor interests with the needs of the taxpayers. I will not sacrifice your interests for special interests.  I will stand up for all El Pasoans regardless of race, income or zip code.  I have a deep love of all things El Paso and I believe in our future!