What do you think is the most pressing issue El Paso is facing right now? How do you plan to mitigate?
Recovering from this COVID pandemic with its impact on our physical health, our financial health, and our emotional/mental health. Once a vaccine is available, we will not simply reopen our economy, I believe we will need to rebuild it. Rebuilding will require more jobs and more capital investment to improve our tax base. This began with the announcement of Amazon’s fulfillment center and the most recently announced opening of the TJX warehouse distribution center. It will bring 950 new jobs, $150 million in capital investment, and $30 million in annual payroll to El Paso.
Under what conditions would you impose a COVID-19 related shut down of the city?
Conditions to shut down El Paso must be dire and unavoidable. I do not foresee that occurring if we will maintain wearing of face masks, social distancing and washing of hands. I believe a shut-down would cripple El Paso.
How would you have responded to the killing of George Floyd if you were the mayor of Minneapolis? How will you improve community relations with law enforcement?
We have responded to our 3 crises over the past 2 years with complete transparency regarding the event(s) with updated information and with our response. Minneapolis apparently had longstanding, inherent hiring and training issues reflected in their culture. As one of the safest cities in our nation, EPPD has a strong ethical culture with very good community relations. It is also important to remember how EPPD was recognized and appreciated for their response on August 3. Our police department is one of the finest in the country – it is also reflective of the community with over 80% of the force from El Paso.
The anniversary of August 3rd recently passed, how are you planning to protect the city from race-related violence?
We are a minority-race city and racism will never be tolerated. The racially motivated attack on our community was unpredictable and unimaginable. As one of the safest cities in the United States, EPPD is protecting all of us from any race-related violence or any other form of violence. The response from ALL law enforcement agencies in our community on that tragic day is a testament to the commitment of the men and women in uniform who run toward danger to protect those in need.
What will your strategies be to combat the flu and COVID-19? How will you work with school districts to protect students, faculty, and staff?
COVID-19 spread can only be contained until we have a vaccine. It is contained by wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing and frequent hand washing. The Flu can only be mitigated by flu shots, and the City’s Department of Public Health is providing free flu shots and COVID testing. Our Public Health Authority works closely with independent school districts on their safety protocols, providing recommendations and guidance. However, ISD’s are overseen by the Texas Education Agency, a State entity; therefore, ISDs are exempt from local oversight.
How will you work to invigorate the local economy that has taken a hit amid the pandemic?
I’ve been involved in the recruitment of jobs and capital investment to El Paso since the 1990s. I know how to build a business and recruit industry. We have a very active Economic Development Department that works closely with our private sector partners. Two recent announcements show the fruits of our labors- Amazon and TJX warehouse distribution announcements. Since January of 2020 to September, we’ve hosted 31 site visits, had 4 completed projects, 106 data requests, 31 requests for proposals and added 2,434 new jobs. This is how we will invigorate and rebuild our economy and I want to continue this momentum.
What makes you the best candidate? Why?
No other candidate has the experience I have of growing a business and being the CEO of a $100 million sales organization; serving as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army representing our largest employer, Fort Bliss; serving in the Texas Legislature, President of the EPISD Board if Managers; and being Mayor. I’m the only candidate with hands on success bringing jobs and investment to El Paso. I’m an original founder of the Regional Economic Development Co (REDCO), now known as the Borderplex Alliance. No other candidate has weathered the challenges as Mayor that I have with the Immigration Crisis, the unimaginable August 3 shooting, and now our COVID pandemic. I want to continue to provide leadership for my city for the next 4 years. My 5th generation El Paso grandchildren are counting on me.