Accusations fly between City of Socorro and County of El Paso

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 11:32pm

City of Socorro moves forward with annexation process despite resignations

Socorro is moving forward with its controversial annexation plan. That was one of several big decisions made at last night's heated city council meeting and new accusations about that plan have now emerged.

The County Attorney has threatened to file a petition in court alleging Socorro City Council members are illegally holding office after the State Attorney General's office found that the council violated state law by extending the length of terms. They're concerned council members may not have the authority to approve the San Elizario annexation process but that didn't seem to stop the City of Socorro. Jesse Gandara Junior took a minute after Socorro's City Council meeting Thursday night to accuse County Commissioner Vince Perez of not supporting the Socorro's annexation plans. He says the county made some sort of million dollar deal with land developers in San Elizario.

“As a municipality, we have a lot stricter codes which is why if you're a developer in a million dollar land deal you would not want the city of Socorro to annex it,” said Socorro City Councilman Jesse Gandara Junior.

County Commissioner Vincent Perez rebutted.

"It doesn't surprise me that a Gandara would make up such an elaborate scheme. The reality is that his dad, his uncle and his cousin have all been indicted for bribery, corruption and drug trafficking and so it's no surprise that these are the types of tactics that they pull," said Perez.

The City of Socorro Council also will launch an investigation. into an alleged recording that surfaced. On it, Gandara Junior allegedly tries to bribe a prominent dairy farm in exchange for its support of the annexation. But this didn't stop the City of Socorro from moving forward, despite concerns from the community.

"A small group of people about ten or twelve people that have always been here in most of the meetings complaining about all the good projects that we have brought to Socorro and there's no pleasing them," said Mayor Pro-Tem Gloria Macias Rodriguez.

Perez says the people of Socorro are on the ones hurting.

"Ultimately its their tax dollars that are gonna be used to pursue all of these lawsuits Socorro is going through because of the poor representation that they currently have, " said Perez.

The drama only intensified today a meeting to discuss installing a major road in Socorro was put on the back burner.

"Suddenly after last night's vote to investigate, everyone involved with a taped recording of a phone conversation between the family of resigned city representative Jesse Gandara, Jr. and the owners of the Licon dairy, they canceled the meeting. It seems like they are more interested in stopping the annexation than helping us correct the issues with SB 100. The bill we used to move our election dates until November, said Socorro Mayor Pro-Tem Gloria Macias Rodriguez.

Vince Perez told News Channel Nine, the only reason he canceled today's meeting was because he was running behind schedule.

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