- Number-one campaign focus?
If re-elected, I want to continue to focus on leading us through the uncertainty of COVID-19, rebuilding our economy and the expansion of jobs. Capital investment is also important for improving our tax base to reduce the burden on homeowners. This requires experience leading through challenges, and experience working on economic development projects. Focusing on rebuilding our economy will also help relieve the burden of the revenue shortfall from the Pandemic, without increasing the burden on tax payers.
- What sets you apart from your opponents?
My experience and results for our community during my term set me apart from my opponents. No other candidate has weathered the challenges as Mayor that I have with the Immigration Crisis, the unimaginable August 3 shooting, and now the COVID-19 Pandemic. I am committed to leading our city and continuing to put El Pasoans before partisan politics to complete the task.
- Relevant experience that qualifies you for the position you seek?
For 31 years I was the CEO of a large insurance brokerage firm based in El Paso. Prior to public service I was Chairman of the Board for the El Paso Chamber and YPO International. I have also served as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for 8 years, Texas State Representative for District 78, President of the EPISD Board of Managers for 2 years and I am the current Mayor.
- If you had the chance to revoke one ordinance in El Paso immediately upon taking office, which one would it be?
There are ordinances that create bureaucracy and hinder staff from making decisions restricting the operations and the efficiency of conducting business. Ordinances can also limit efficiency in the name of the legal process. Anyone interacting with City Government should experience as few delays and bureaucracy as possible, in order to have their request processed efficiently.
- In what ways is City government on the right track, and in what ways does it need to change course?
Government is never as responsive and efficient as it needs to be. There are legal restraints as to how fast it can respond sometimes, and as Mayor there are governance limitations. Our City Manager form of government allows operations to function regardless of political posturing by elected officials. For example, I wanted CARES Act funding distributed immediately upon determination and ratification of priorities as approved by Council. City Council members decided they wanted final approval before funds would be released, delaying the process.
- What steps can you or the city council take to increase transparency and the public's understanding about what's going on in the city?
All ordinances and procurement decisions are public and ratified by Council. All decisions are made after discussion, to include Executive Session, and are voted on publicly. I am not sure the issue is transparency as much as understanding how the process works in city government. Basic civics is not taught in our schools anymore which I believe hurts our understanding.
- Are you in favor or opposed to the construction of the downtown arena in the Duranguito District?
This project was voted on and passed in 2012 with 70% voting in favor, and it should be completed. We also need more convention space, and a larger concert venue which will also allow sports. This is also a venue that will drive revenue for the city, which is critical during a time we are trying to rebuild our economy.
- Do you think local health and city officials have responded to the coronavirus pandemic properly?
A Global Pandemic cannot be predicted, and despite the circumstances the City has done everything possible to remain ahead of the unexpected. We issued our first Executive Order before we had our first positive case, although overridden by State Officials we ordered the schools closed ahead of any other City in Texas. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has brought on rapidly changing scenarios, and we have a very vulnerable population due to our demographics and cultural makeup. We need to continue following guidelines from the CDC, State Health Services, and our Public Health Authority on what actions to take locally.
- Are you in favor of diverting some police department funding, reallocating it toward local social programs?
The Police Department has been “defunded” for years. When I entered office only 70% of the fleet was operational, and every vehicle needed to be replaced. In my first year of office, we purchased 300 marked units – ensuring the safety of the officers and our community. Public safety in our community has lacked funding and attention by previous administrations. The Police Department is one of the finest in the country and it is reflective of the community (over 80% are from El Paso). We have also been ranked as one of the safest cities in the country for several years, and we should credit the work by law enforcement for that designation. Social programs can be addressed in other ways but should not be done at the detriment of keeping our community safe.