The Oligarchy is losing its grip on power in El Paso. The first sign that the tide turned against them was Ricardo Samaniego’s victory over John Cook in his race to become County Judge, and then there was Dee Margo’s spectacular defeat in the recent mayoral race. The losses of incumbents Vince Perez and Sam Morgan are part of the same general trend.
CITY OLIGARCHY CAUCUS POISED TO SHRINK
The Oligarchy Caucus consists of City reps who vote reliably for the interests of the Oligarchs, whether its for arenas, ballparks, TIRZes, 380 agreements, or other handouts at the expense of the taxpayers at large. There are currently five members: Peter Svarzbein, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Henry Rivera, and Cissy Lizarraga. Given the recent votes of Claudia Lizette Rodriguez, there might actually be six.
The Oligarchy caucus nearly always votes in lockstep on issues that concern the Oligarchs. Just look at their votes on the Arena, TIRZ 13, the Great Wolf Lodge, and the mayoral veto, for example. Their votes are numbingly predictable. All you have to do to know how they will vote on key issues is examine their campaign finance reports to see who supports their elections.
But the Oligarchy Caucus is now at risk of losing its majority for the first time in modern memory. Alexsandra Annello and Joe Molinar are the only two City reps who consistently refuse to embrace the Oligarchy agenda, but soon there will likely be at least four!
BRIAN KENNEDY DECLARES CANDIDACY FOR DISTRICT 1
Brian Kennedy, formerly the manager of the El Paso County Coliseum and now a practicing attorney, declared his candidacy for District 1 a few minutes ago. He is fiscally conservative, smart as hell, and opposes influence-peddling and corruption of any kind. His opponent, Analisa Cordova Silverstein, released her July 15 campaign finance report, showing that she is the Oligarchs’ designated replacement for Peter Svarzbein, who is terming out. It is interesting, by the way, that Silverstein has hired the media consulting company of Peter’s fiancé, Tatiana Avila, paying Zlota Consulting a total of $3,600 as of July 15.
JOE PICKETT DECLARES CANDIDACY FOR DISTRICT 5
Joe Pickett is running against incumbent Isabel Salcido for District 5. He brings to the table name recognition, intelligence and eloquence, and a deep commitment to the El Paso taxpayer. His July campaign finance report shows that he has $315,394.54 to spend on this election. Talk about shock and awe! Salcido, who has voted for a major property tax hike and hundreds of millions in COs, is a sitting duck.
CLAUDIA LIZETTE RODRIGUEZ OF DISTRICT 6 FAILS TO FILE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
So far Claudia Lizette Rodriguez’s campaign finance report is 10 days late, with no mention of this in the media. Given her recent votes to support Tommy Gonzalez’s contract extension without a salary cap, to eliminate the mayoral veto, and to make it harder for citizens to petition to put ordinances on the ballot, I am fully expecting her to go after the Oligarchy money. We all look forward to viewing her campaign finance reports.
RICH WRIGHT IS AGAIN RUNNING FOR DISTRICT 8
Rich Wright is again running for District 8. The word on the street is that Lizarraga will not run and instead her chief of staff will throw in his hat and collect Oligarchy money for his campaign. Rich is a fierce fiscal hawk who has been exposing the dark side of El Paso politics for many years and is a very sharp thinker. I just learned that he will hold his campaign launch party at Hope & Anchor July 28 at 6:00pm.
It seems very likely that that the Oligarchy Caucus, after the November 8 election, will shrink to four members, and possibly three. Kennedy and Pickett, at a minimum, seem poised to overwhelm their opponents. If there are four, starting in 2023 the Mayor will have the opportunity to cast tie-breaking votes against the Oligarchy agenda, provided the Oligarchs do not succeed in depriving him of that authority and his mayoral veto. If Rich Wright wins and the Oligarchy Caucus shrinks to three, the Oligarchs will have to take a back seat for at least two years. And if all the Oligarchy incumbents and challengers lose, come January there will be only two left in the Oligarchy Caucus, which will not have an opportunity to seize control again until at least 2027.
I look forward to seeing the people of El Paso retake their City government in the upcoming election.
Have a great afternoon.