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‘Verbally abusive’: city representative files code of conduct complaint against El Paso Mayor

EL PASO, Texas — El Paso city staff is reviewing a code of conduct complaint against city Mayor Oscar Leeser. 

The complaint was filed Monday by city Rep. Peter Svarzbein, who says the Mayor physically threatened him during an incident in council chambers after a meeting in February. 

Rep. Svarzbein says he approached the Mayor to speak about his concern the Mayor did not conduct the meeting in accordance with their Rules of Order. Rep. Svarzbein paints a picture of a heated argument in the complaint. 

“He continued to insist I was being disrespectful and stood up and said, ‘shut your mouth.’ As I insisted I was seeking clarification about his treatment of the council, he said ‘keep talking, keep talking’ and then ‘shut your mouth or I will shut it for you,’” the complaint read. 

ABC 7 asked the Mayor if he physically threatened Rep. Svarzbein, and the Mayor says it is “untrue.” 

“I mean if you think about it, it’s something that happened four months ago,” Mayor Leeser said. “If it really something like that happened four months ago you would hope he would’ve taken action then.”

The complaint says six people were also inside the chamber during the Feb. 1 incident. City representative Isabel Salcido was named as one of those witnesses. ABC-7 asked her if the claims in the complaint were true. 

In a statement, Rep. Salcido says, “Rep. Svarzbein approached Mayor Leeser to say that he thought the mayor should have let other members of Council speak when they requested. They went back and forth for a while, with Rep. Svarzbein asking the mayor to be respectful of other Council members and allowing them to speak according to our Rules of Order, and then I heard Mayor Leeser tell Rep. Svarzbein “keep talking, keep talking”. At that point I gathered my things and began to leave. I saw Mayor Leeser appear very upset and confront Rep. Svarzbein by following him to his seat, which seemed intimidating. I couldn’t really hear what was being said at that point.” 

ABC 7 also reached out to Rep. Svarzbein Tuesday for a comment on his complaint. He was not at the city council meeting and was unable to do an interview. 

A spokeswoman with the city says the Alternate Mayor Pro Tem will meet with the two Council members to resolve the concern. If the concern is not resolved the item will be posted on a Council agenda.

You can read the entire code of conduct complaint below. 

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Dylan McKim


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