There are numerous issues of importance the City of El Paso faces. When elected, I commit to dedicate my efforts towards, but not limited to, the following items:
Transparency and Accountability
Transparent and accountable representation are hallmarks of American democracy, but for far too long, District 2 has suffered from dishonest and disrespectful leadership. The current office-holder, Jim Tolbert, ran on a campaign promising to bring ethical and moral behavior to City Hall. Tolbert is now under criminal investigation by the District Attorney and the Texas Rangers for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act, a law which is intended to shed light on government affairs and hold our elected representatives accountable. His predecessor left office while under investigation by the City’s Ethics Review Commission and ultimately accepted responsibility for violating the City’s ethics ordinance.
This type of embarrassing representation must come to an end now.
The rules governing ethical behavior are simple and straightforward. When elected, I will strictly adhere to both the Texas Open Meetings Act and the City’s Ethics Ordinance and bring integrity back to District 2. When elected, I will have an open-door policy and make myself as accessible and responsive to the public as humanly possible.
The residents and taxpayers of El Paso deserve to have as much contact with their representative, without being belittled or ignored. District 2 needs a representative who will uphold the values of honesty, respect, and integrity, values which I will take with me to City Hall.
The need for street improvements has been a critical issue throughout District 2 and El Paso as a whole. One only has to drive or walk around the inner rings of the city to witness the need for street improvements. The poor condition of the streets are not only embarrassing to us, but they are also embarrassing to the visitors of El Paso.
In 2012, the City adopted a $218 million Street Capital Improvement Program to address those issues. It was recently revealed that $18.4 million of those funds were allocated elsewhere. I want to work with Council members to help come up with a plan to restore that critical funding. When elected, I will prioritize street improvement planning and work with City leaders to make sure that City staff has the resources to track ongoing street projects to ensure that taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars are spent correctly and fairly.
I believe that there should be greater communication between the City’s Capital Improvement Department and the neighborhoods they serve in order to have a more comprehensive understanding of street improvement needs. When elected, I hope to collaborate with Council members to work towards facilitating that dialogue to meet District 2 and City priorities.
The City has a decent economic development strategy, but one that I think relies too heavily on attracting new business with tax abatement incentives. Incentive policies are a great way to attract new business, which we need, but a sound economic development policy should be broader.
Part of that are robust incentive policies that help grow existing local small businesses. Our small business owners know this community better than most and they have put their blood, sweat, tears, and finances towards contributing to our local economy. Those small business owners deserve recognition for the risks they have taken and should reap the same benefits that larger corporations and businesses enjoy.
We also need an economic development strategy that focuses on our workforce so that all El Pasoans can earn a living wage.
Part of that equation is having reliable and dependable public transportation to ensure that our workforce members and students can get from their homes to their jobs or classes on time. As a student and former service industry employee myself, I have seen first-hand the struggles that many students and workers face who depend on public transportation for their livelihoods.
For many low-earning, hard-workers, especially those who work late nights or students who have evening classes, they are not adequately served by our our bus system. There have been many improvements to our transportation system, including the Sun Metro Brio. But I believe much more work can be done to improve our public transportation system.
When elected, I want to begin a dialogue with my colleagues about expanding bus services for those whose only option is to utilize public transportation.
A strong economic development strategy should also include investment in our history and culture, with a focus specifically on historic preservation and heritage tourism. It is estimated that El Paso only captures about two percent of heritage tourism dollars spent in the state, despite being the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States.
We should collaborate with stakeholders throughout the region to advance efforts to preserve our natural and historic resources and treasures. I also believe that our community should be working towards saving and rehabilitating our historic neighborhoods and buildings, not tearing them down.
With regard to the proposed multipurpose cultural and performing arts center, I believe it should be located downtown, as set forth by the the voters, but I do not support the Union Plaza/Duranguito location as it would result in the displacement of fellow residents and the destruction of the first platted neighborhood in El Paso.
When elected, I will work to make historic preservation and heritage tourism key components of our economic development strategy.