In case you haven’t noticed, El Paso is ruled by an Oligarchy. In fact, a group of scholars wrote a book about it four years ago titled Who Rules El Paso?

An oligarchy may defined as “a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.”

Our local Oligarchy has control of El Paso.

There is a small number of elite families, living primarily in the Upper Valley and Coronado, who account for most of the campaign contributions to the elections of City representatives, the Mayor, County Commissioners, the County Judge, and the members of our Texas Delegation.

Our Oligarchs are both Republicans and Democrats, White and non-White.

They share a common interest in maintaining control of our City and County for private financial gain (the basic political dynamic in modern democracies such as ours).

The elected leaders they control are what we call the “Oligarchy Caucus.”

The members of the Oligarchy Caucus, at the behest of their masters, vote for higher taxation and more deficit-spending in order to support large developments and capital projects with public funds.

They also also vote for generous incentives and tax abatements for the wealthy that deprive our local governments of tax revenue, ensuring that homeowners will make up the shortfall.

They vote for arenas, ballparks, waterparks and streetcars and repeatedly tell us we deserve world-class amenities, even as our population continues to decline and our infrastructure falls into disrepair.


The good news is that the Oligarchy lost control of our City on January 3, 2023, when a coalition of thoughtful, independent thinkers was elected to City Council, even though the Oligarchs held private fundraisers at their homes and spent exorbitant sums on campaign contributions.

Mayor Oscar Leeser and five Representatives–Brian Kennedy, Alexsandra Annello, Joe Molinar, Art Fierro, and Chris Canales–are not for sale and cannot be easily influenced by private interests.

They are skillfully steering our City in a positive new direction.

Since January they have fired Tommy Gonzalez, ended the Arena litigation, killed TRZ2 and TIRZ10A, ordered a flurry of internal audits, launched several internal investigations of corruption, achieved a no-new-revenue tax rate for the first time in a decade, and committed to issuing no bond debt for an entire fiscal year.

They have appointed Col. Cary Westin as Interim City Manager, and so far he has done an exceptional job, although he needs to fire and replace several of his subordinates who are holdouts from the Gonzalez era.

Reps. Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, and Henry Rivera are the remaining members of the Oligarchy Caucus on City Council, although Salcido has recently shown signs of recanting and abandoning her former positions.

Both Hernandez and Rivera are facing major investigations of their conduct that threaten to end their political careers.


There are five members of the County Commissioners Court: four Commissioners and a County Judge.

Commissioners Iliana Holguin and David Stout, though very different politically, are totally free from Oligarchy control. They are champions of historic preservation and other important initiatives.

Commissioner Leon and Judge Ricardo Samaniego are the closest to the Oligarchs on the Commissioners Court and often vote for their interests, but not every time.

Commissioner Sergio Coronado was elected only recently, so we need to observe him more before coming to any conclusions.

The County Commissioners Court has traditionally maintained a low debt load and kept taxation within reasonable limits, but in the last few weeks has gone off the rails, voting 4-1 for the rollover tax rate and a 16% raise for themselves. They plan to put a $100 million bond on the ballot next fiscal year, which will raise our County tax significantly.


State Senator Cesar Blanco and four House Representatives–Mary Gonzalez, Joe Moody, Claudia Ordaz, and Lina Ortega–are all staunch Democrats but happy to accept large donations from wealthy Republicans.

This has been an El Paso tradition in our State Delegation for a long time. They accept significant Republican contributions and then promote Democratic fiscal and social policies in Austin, but they can always be relied upon to draft bills in support of the Oligarchs’ special interests.

Their unanimous effort to increase our vehicle registration fee to the highest in Texas so that large infrastructure projects can be bonded, benefitting local developers and construction companies, is proof enough of where they stand.

We don’t see them reforming certificates of obligation or taking steps to provide their constituents with tax relief.


The Oligarchs’ grip on the powerful Public Service Board, which controls land and water in our region, has never been challenged. We will be writing more about the members of this Board in the coming weeks.

We at the El Paso Taxpayer Revolt will continue to monitor our elected leaders and their connections to the local Oligarchs.