Socorro City Council to launch own investigation into annexation process
POSTED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 12:47am
UPDATED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 12:50am
Exclusive Interview with Jesse Gandara Junior
El Paso, TEXAS — More fireworks out of Socorro City Council as a number of things on the agenda were at the top of people's minds. To start, both City Council members, Jesse Gandara Junior and Willie Madrid, that resigned on Sunday, were carrying on as usual in Thursday night's meeting.
A motion was passed to approve Gandara Junior's proposed trips for Council to attend a Texas Legislative Session in Austin and a Fire Rescue Conference in Corpus Christi. But, not all were in favor. City Representative Maria Reyes called those items financially irresponsible, because litigation and investigations surrounded Gandara Junior. At one point she was even asked to leave the room during executive session, when council would discuss potential litigation involving herself.
The most controversial topic of the evening, what prompted Jesse Gandara Junior to resign in the first place, was Socorro's annexation and extension of municipal services. Council decided on a date for public discussion on the subject which is the next step in the annexation process and extension of municipal services.
Residents gave mixed reaction:
"This council is the only council that's been doing things for Socorro, that's why I don't question what they're doing with the annexation," said Socorro Resident Margarita Martinez.
Another resident seemed to also support the annexation.
"What the council has in mind is to put fire departments so they can have more protection for little boys, little girls. You work all your life for a little house and then in 10 minutes you lose it, makes no sense," said resident Juan Castaneda.
Others were strongly opposed.
"I don't believe we have to go after San Eli with the historic district they have, its not our issue, even if the law says we can I don't think we should do it. They're our neighbors and we should not treat them that way," said Pilo Morales Junior, a Socorro resident.
Another voiced similar opposition.
"You know the people that live in San Elizario are living on income of $10,000 a year so with high taxes they may not be able to pay their taxes and maybe fear losing their homes to Socorro," said San Eli resident Paul Johnson.
Another motion passed in Thursday's meeting, is to conduct an official investigation to inquire into issues associated with the Socorro's Annexation of property commonly know as the Licon Dairy and to appoint an official hearing officer/investigation acting agent of the City of Socorro. There are allegations of alleged leaked recordings of Gandara Junior bribing the Licon Dairy for it's support in the annexation.
In an exclusive interview with News Channel Nine, Jesse Gandara Junior expressed in detail what an investigation on behalf of the City of Socorro entails:
“It has come to our attention that before the City of Socorro went into annexation, there was a million dollar land deal in the San Eli area. We figured out since then, we have documentation that our county commissioner Vince Perez is involved in that. 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 annex it. And if an elected official were to use his influence to dissuade an annexation from happening for direct benefit of millions of dollars that would be highly illegal,” said Jesse Gandara Junior.