Up until the 1980’s our city council members ran as a slate.  Several candidates would band together and let it be known that they stood together and that they would make a difference on city council, as a group.  For those too young to remember this, these were the days when El Paso was considered to be a jewel in the desert.  We were seen as more desirable than Tucson, Albuquerque and Phoenix.

The laws have changed since then and now we have what are called “single member districts”.  Individuals are elected to represent their district first and the city as a whole second.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the new laws is that many highly capable people will not run for city council because they fear that their one vote will not make a difference and that they will have to tolerate city council meetings that resemble middle school.  Witness what we have at council today.

Not competent

What we have today is a group of city representatives that simply do not have the capability of  managing city staff or special interests.  Our city representatives are paid less than 30 thousand dollars a year.  I am not arguing that these people need a pay raise.

Each Tuesday they deal with a string of city officials that by and large make more than 100 thousand dollars a year.  The city manager gets paid $239,000 per year.  The city attorney is paid almost $200,000 dollars a year.

Most of our city representatives simply do not have the experience to manage people at this level.  If city staff wants to lie or hide the truth our city representatives don’t know the questions to ask.


When concerned members of the public do ask the right questions they are dismissed as crazies by city staff.

We might be able to change this if we could somehow get capable people to run in each of the districts.  Together they could make a difference.

Yes they would have to deal with a daily newspaper that is used by some in power to discredit those that they disagree with.  The newspaper is in danger of becoming irrelevant and while they may try to continue promoting what their masters tell them to, eventually the public will catch on.

Then too, we might have an opportunity to vote on the strong mayor/city manager form of government.  I imagine that our current mayor would like to have more power to clean up the mess he sees.

Every election is an important one.  We have the opportunity to change course.

We have time if we start now to find candidates.

We deserve better



9 Responses to Outmatched

  1. Deputy Dawg says:

    I dont think there is anything that currently prevents a group of people running as a team is there? They could run as “Team El Paso” or somesuch.. When EPISD was going through it’s troubles, Eliiot shapliegh tried to do something like that with his “Kids First” candidates. (Of course, you have to have a set of strong candidates, something Kids First lacked save for Susy Bird).
    WHy cant a group run as a team? I remember the “Don Henderson” and Jonathan Rogers “teams” back in the day


    • Helen Marshall says:

      We now have to wait four years before elections, and only half of the seats will be up. Term limits will ensure that some of the better reps will be out of office before a competent full council can come into being.


  2. Jerry Kurtyka says:

    Nothing changes until people care enough about their community to get engaged and informed and vote. I don’t see that happening here for another generation. Until then it’s wysiwyg.


  3. Hay los wacho says:

    We finally made the decision and are moving to San Antonio next month. We can’t wait to get out of here. Being a native El Pasoan, I finally got fed up with the stupidity of our city “leaders”, high taxes, petty politics, ugly downtown, poor job opportunities, uneducated population, and liberal politics. El Paso used to be a great place to live and raise a family, but it quickly became the sewer pit of the southwest. Travel abroad and say you are from El Paso, you will get a polite but “I’m sorry” respnse. I am truly ashamed and embarrased to say I am from El Paso.


  4. Reality Checker says:

    There is no indication that the Mr. Mayor wants to do the heavy lifting to clean up the mess or that he even thinks there is a mess. Since taking office, he has not spoken candidly about the problems that exist. He has backed away from sending the city manager form of government back to the voters as he promised while running for office. He stood by and allowed certain city council members to stack the charter advisory committee with both the former city manager and the ex-Mayor who was responsible for putting the city manager in place. Mr. Mayor seems content to fly around the country under the banner of economic development.


  5. I like your thinking, but I’d go you one further. At the time you’re talking about, we had something else that we now lack. We had strong Mayors, and no wasteful City Managers (plus very costly staff and administrative costs). And, just as important, we had a for real City Hall, with parking available close by.
    Our City Council meetings are indeed a joke, and it is easy to see why no one in their right mind would want to be a part of them.
    IMHO, we do need to return to a strong Mayor form of City Government, and throw out the very high expense of the current administrative set up. Chances of that happening are slim to none, though.


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