by Vanessa Johnson
Posted on April 13, 2005
(Candidates’ names are listed as they appear on the ballot. Names are hyperlinked to the campaign finance reports that were available at the time of publication.)
Mayoral Race: El Paso’s next mayor will have a four-year term. The five-person race includes the incumbent Joe Wardy, City Representative John Cook, lawyer Carmen Rodriguez, the quixotic Jaime Perez, and neighborhood guru Matt Carroll. The pundits, despite a national trend in big cities to move back towards the "strong mayor" system, largely liked our new “weak mayor” system, and think City Manager Joyce Wilson is doing a good job.
Candidates: Matt Carroll, Joe Wardy (incumbent), Jaime O. Peréz, Carmen Rodriguez, John Cook
Biggest Issues: Economic Development, Medical School, Transition to City Manager Form of Government, Development/Growth, BRAC
Wildcard: Voter turnout
Prediction: Half the pundits foresaw a runoff between Wardy and Cook and the other half thought Wardy could take all.
District #1: The West Side District includes UTEP, Kern Place, as well as the West Side and parts of the Upper Valley.
Candidates: Ric Schecter, Ann Morgan Lilly, Roy E. Gray, Susan Austin (incumbent)
Biggest Issues: Arroyos, housing and development, ASARCO cleanup
Strongest Candidate: Smart Susan is either an “independent thinker” or “politically inept”; Ann Lilly is a “nice lady, but…” Gray will be distanced, and Schecter, like many on the fringes, is able to articulate his good ideas since he has nothing to lose.
Prediction: Austin’s in for another term, even if a runoff with Lilly or Schecter transpires.
District #2: The West-Central District includes Memorial Park and wraps around parts of Fort Bliss and Biggs Army Airfield.
Candidates: Susie Byrd, Oscar González, Robert A. Cushing, Jr. (incumbent)
Biggest Issues: Street paving, redevelopment of old housing/businesses
Strongest Candidate: This was our most polarizing race, with support going either strongly for or against Susie Byrd. She has grassroots support but “Caballero taint”, meaning our Wardy supporters (except one) didn’t like her, but they didn’t like Cushing or Gonzalez much better.
Wildcard: El Paso Times Endorsement
Prediction: Runoff between Byrd and Gonzalez
District #3: The East-Central District includes the airport and refinery.
Candidates: Marilyn J. "Juana" Mischen, Jesus Ortega, Jose Alexandro Lozano (incumbent), Lorenzo Larry Medina
Biggest Issues: Taxes
Strongest Candidate: No strong favorite among respondents, incumbent Lozano seen as the strongest of the weak.
Prediction: Runoff between Lozano and Medina
District #4: The Northeast district, traditionally politically unique from other districts, is currently represented by mayoral candidate John Cook. This is the only race with no incumbent.
Candidates: Melina Castro, Jerome Tilghman, Tony Lewis, Carl L. Robinson, Joe Gandara
Biggest Issue: Housing and schooling for new Fort Bliss soldiers and families
Strongest Candidate: Carl Robinson
Prediction: Runoff between Robinson and Lewis
District #5: The East Side district recently held a special election after Dan Power resigned. Challenger Bill Sparks entered the race late.
Candidates: H.W. “Bill” Sparks, Presi Ortega, Jr. (incumbent)
Biggest Issue: Pundits wonder why we had to go through this race.
Strongest Candidate: Presi Ortega; Sparks is good guy but needs to find his race.
Prediction: Presi takes it without a problem.
District #6: The East-Valley District is also divided by I-10, with the Lower Valley portion bordering Socorro, and the rest following the eastern city limits.
Candidates: Paul J. Escobar (incumbent), Eddie Holguin, Jr., Troy Hicks, Fernando Peña, Jr.
Biggest Issue: Far east side development, taxes
Strongest Candidate: Paul Escobar
Best Campaign Slogan: "Hicks for Six!"
Prediction: With four candidates, a runoff between Escobar and Holguin is likely; with fewer candidates Escobar would take all.
District #7: Eastridge Mid-Valley District is split by I-10, with more voters living north, but more people living south.
Candidates: Steve Ortega, Vivian Rojas (incumbent), Emma Acosta, Alan Matthew Serna
Biggest Issue: Taxes
Strongest Candidate: Steve Ortega
Wildcard: Voter turnout
Prediction: Runoff between Rojas and Ortega
District #8: The Southwest district includes Downtown, Sunset Heights, Segundo Barrio, and parts of the Upper Valley. This is El Paso’s most expensive district race, with over $100,000 raised between the candidates.
Candidates: Anthony Cobos (incumbent), Beto O'Rourke
Biggest Issue: Development, ASARCO cleanup, arroyos, taxes
Strongest Candidate: O’Rourke is seen by large majority as the best candidate but financial underdog.
Wildcard: Watch for media battle, more confrontation between candidates
Prediction: Too close to call
* * *
Disclaimer: The race summaries merely represent the collective opinions of the 20 people with whom I spoke, and do not represent my opinion or Newspaper Tree’s opinion. If you don't like this article, feel free to send me a letter, or go to the library and read up on how futures markets work.
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