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.
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