Ryan Woodcraft, Guest columnist, published 6:01 a.m. MT Nov. 2, 2023

“The biggest concern I hear daily from El Pasoans is how excessive property valuations coupled with high tax rates are forcing families into unnecessary and preventable financial hardship.

On Aug. 28, 2023, the El Paso County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to tax residents the maximum amount possible without voter approval while giving themselves a 16% pay raise in the process.

For almost an hour prior to the vote, voters spoke directly to the court and stated their concerns over adopting such an egregious tax rate and the impact it would have on their families and the local community. Not only were those comments disregarded, but voters were also publicly ridiculed by some of our elected officials.

Meanwhile, families in our community are struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, and must sometimes choose whether to pay a utility bill or put food on the table.

In one public school in East El Paso, there are over 350 students who are considered disadvantaged or high-risk economically. These students come from situations where their only meals are the ones they receive during the week when school is in session, or when the only thing they ask for at Christmas is a warm jacket.

Enough is enough! I am running to represent Precinct 1 as county commissioner because I want to ensure that El Pasoans have the freedom and opportunity to achieve success and experience joy without undue government interference. For far too long the residents of the county have borne the brunt of one of the highest property tax rates in the entire nation and an unsustainable level of non-voter-approved debt.

There are five taxing entities that contribute to the overall property tax burden: the Independent School District for the area where you reside, the city of El Paso, El Paso County, University Medical Center, and El Paso Community College.

Only one of these entities has intentionally and vocally voted to raise your taxes this year: El Paso County. As if that weren’t enough, the commissioner’s court is actively exploring ways to issue between $100 million and $500 million dollars of debt this fiscal year.

My primary aim is to seek ways to reduce the overall county tax burden on our citizens by implementing a culture of fiscal prudence and accountability.

I am not part of the old guard in the El Paso political world. I am not beholden to traditional political alliances, and as a committed Libertarian, I pledge to hold the line against increasing taxes while streamlining the county administration. I will fight to keep the fruits of your labor in your bank accounts so you and your families can best determine how it’s spent.

When El Pasoans have more income in their pockets, they have more spending power. When they have more spending power, local businesses thrive, new opportunities are created, and our community soars to new heights.

A vote for me is a vote against the status quo of high taxes, fiscal irresponsibility, and deficit spending.

A vote for me is a vote for your right to retain as much of your money as possible for you and your family.

I will work hard to earn your vote and represent you on the El Paso County Commissioners Court. I would love to hear from you and how we can work together to move El Paso forward!

I look forward to serving you!”

Ryan Woodcraft is a city of El Paso public servant and a retired Chief Warrant Officer, US Army.