Renard Johnson is running for Mayor on a pro-Oligarchy platform.
That means more large bond issuances for capital improvement projects and transportation infrastructure, generous incentives for large corporations, and higher taxes and fees for everyone.
He has hired Veronica Escobar’s campaign manager and appointed a Kemp Smith attorney, County Judge Samaniego’s daughter, as his campaign treasurer.
His strategists are apparently branding him as the New Beto.
In his first official public photos, we see him appropriating the ex-congressman’s wardrobe and imitating his smile, sporting a perfectly pressed button-down shirt without a tie.
Early indications are that Johnson has joined the Beto-Escobar-Ortega-Byrd Coalition. These are the hip progressives who are able to earn the loyalty of the local Democratic factions, skillfully reciting the entire progressive wish list, while drawing contributions from key Republicans whose energy and development objectives they tacitly support.
Beto signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” but was the second largest recipient of oil and gas money in Congress. He claimed to be a man of the people–a champion of the downtrodden–but went to the Segundo Barrio to tell the residents (in Spanish) that it was in their best interest that their neighborhood be demolished for big retail projects.
Of course, his progressive supporters forgave all that, gluing Beto bumper stickers onto their Subarus.
JOHNSON ROLLS OUT HIS PRIORITIES
As for Johnson, the New Beto, you can now learn about his “Priorities” on his new campaign webpage.
There you will read about his focus on investment, including in “new forms of tourism, entertainment, and recreation throughout the city to increase the quality of life for our residents, with a mission to enhance El Paso’s appeal as a place to live, work, and visit.”
Really? How has that worked for us so far?
The City has built an insolvent Ballpark, four insolvent water parks, and an insolvent trolley system. It is about to complete a new Children’s Museum and Mexican-American Cultural Center, and is poised to construct a multipurpose arena that we do not need. We are currently investing $473,225,000 in quality of life projects and another $413,122,650 in public safety, plus cost overruns in the tens of millions, leaving our children mired in record debt.
Yet our population has declined each year since 2017.
Johnson’s solution, of course, is to invest more public dollars so that we have more shiny new stuff “to ensure all families can enjoy an excellent quality of life.”
Maybe we can invest a few hundred million in a deck plaza over Interstate 10 that would include a new soccer stadium for the Locomotives, with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
It’s the same failed El Paso formula: The elite investors and construction firms along with their bankers and attorneys profit, and we pay.
NO MENTION OF TAX RELIEF
The one thing conspicuously missing from Johnson’s webpage is any mention of tax relief, which is what El Pasoans desire the most!
Adam Powell writes, “though he acknowledges the crushing weight of El Paso’s burdensome property taxes, which are consistently among the highest in the nation, Johnson stopped short of supporting a no-new revenue budget if he’s elected.”
And yet Johnson just posted a highly polished campaign video in which he claims he wants to lower our property tax while advancing economic development.
Dee Margo told exactly the same lie before he was elected Mayor, and then he presided over three property tax increases and hundreds of millions in non-voter-approved debt issuances.
The voters punished him by throwing him out of office by a historic margin.
The current City Council, ably guided by Brian Kennedy, Joe Molinar, Art Fierro, and Mayor Leeser, defeated their opponents, all Oligarchy surrogates, by promising the voters tax relief and actually delivering.
They directed staff to produce a no-new-revenue tax rate for the current fiscal year and insisted they do the same for FY 2025.
But if Renard Johnson is elected Mayor, make no mistake about it. You will see a resumption of deficit-spending and tax increases while the developers smile their way to the bank.