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Former El Paso Mayor Ray Salazar has died

Former El Paso Mayor Ray Salazar has died, a close friend of the family told ABC-7.

Salazar was mayor from 1977-1979.

The family friend learned from Salazar’s daughter that Salazar died about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Salazar was the city’s second Hispanic mayor.

In 2013, an anti-ballpark group that included Salazar, sued then-City Manager Joyce Wilson and two city representatives to stop the demolition of the old City Hall building.

The group claimed Wilson and city Reps Steve Ortega and Courtney Niland, conspired to to misuse public funds.

The lawsuit was dismissed.

Salazar also led the charge in a fight to oust Niland.

In September of 2012, he filed a notice-of-intent with the city clerk’s office to recall Niland. Salazar said he planned to recall all six City Council members who voted in favor of the ballpark proposal.

At the time, Salazar told ABC-7 the members of city council failed the community and he felt the voters should have had a say.

“This is the worst council I’ve ever seen in the history of this city … because they don’t listen to the voters of this community,” he said.

Niland responded in a statement.

“It’s unfortunate the vocal opposition is trying to hijack the election with these tactics. I’m hopeful most El Pasoans understand what is truly at stake here is the direction of our city,” Niland said in her statement.

In a 2011, the El Paso Inc. wrote about an interview Salazar did with Texas Monthly magazine. Salazar discussed a proposal for a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border during his time in office. President Jimmy Carter administration’s 1977 proposal sparked the same kind of debate that rose about the border wall started during the George W. Bush administration, the El Paso Inc. wrote.

“We don’t want a Berlin wall between our two cities,” Salazar told Texas Monthly magazine, El Paso Inc. reported. “There’s no way a barrier like that can be maintained without spending millions and millions of dollars.

“And the only result is going to be increased hostilities between neighbors.”

Salazar was 85 years old.

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