El Paso’s city attorney on Thursday night declared that ousted City Council District 3 Rep. Cassandra Hernandez can legally run in an upcoming special election to fill her own seat.
The determination comes after Hernandez filed papers earlier this week to run in the Nov. 5 election. Her fellow council members voted to call that special election after city officials declared Hernandez had vacated her seat as a result of a short-lived Facebook post about a mayoral bid.
“Ms. Hernandez is permitted by law to run in the special election for District 3. Pursuant to state law, she is required to run to regain the seat she vacated,” said the statement from City Attorney Karla Nieman.
Nieman’s position contradicts Mayor Pro-Tem Claudia Ordaz Perez, who had previously told ABC-7 that Hernandez was barred from running for her council seat in the special election.
Council members and city lawyers cited the Texas Constitution in ousting Hernandez and setting a date for a special election. The constitution says certain public officials can trigger an automatic resignation if they announce they are running for another office.
In a Facebook post last month, which was deleted a short time later, Hernandez appeared to launch a mayoral campaign. But Hernandez has insisted that the post was inadvertently made by a volunteer on her staff — and maintains she never authorized it although she has considered running for mayor.
The city’s official position is that the Facebook post constituted an announcement and triggered the so-called “resign to run” provision of the state constitution.
Nieman defended that position in her statement on Thursday evening, saying: “The Council has been following the legal process required by Representative Hernandez’s decision to announce her candidacy for mayor. The City Council was required to call the special election to fill the vacancy.”