EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Early voting is now underway in El Paso. On the ballot is a race Northeast residents are keeping a close eye on: the race for the District 4 City Council seat.

Incumbent Dr. Sam Morgan is seeking re-election and faces off against four challengers.

KTSM 9 News reached out to Morgan, who initially agreed to interview. However, decided not to at the last minute. According to El Paso Matters, Morgan is currently awaiting trial on felony and misdemeanor charges for domestic abuse.

However, other candidates who did respond said they want to focus on things like public safety, transparency, and improving infrastructure.

The candidates running for district four include incumbent Dr. Sam Morgan, Joe Molinar, Wesley Lawrence, Dorothy “Sissy” Byrd, and Shawn Nixon.

KTSM reached out to all district four candidates, including Nixon’s family, however only Molinar and Lawrence agreed to interview.

“I was a police officer, detective, sergeant, and a lieutenant. Those were great opportunities for my family at that time, and I want to continue serving the good people of district four,” Molinar said.

“I’m an eagle scout, I’m a proud environmentalist, I’ve been endorsed by the Rio Grande Sierra Club because I have plans that’ll ensure that our environment is not only protected, but that it moves forward in the right direction,” Lawrence shared.

Molinar says he’s lived and worked in Northeast El Paso for over 50 years, and is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran. Public safety is one of his main priorities, “Public safety. They want better response times, they want shorter response times, more police officers, and they want to feel safe in their neighborhoods and communities. We are not going to be able to do that whether they defund the police department budget. I’m running on a campaign to defend police.”

Lawrence is a 23-year-old college student, and shared he’s a lifelong resident of the Northeast. Some of his focuses include city council transparency, taxes, green infrastructure, and bringing more quality of life projects to the Northeast.

“People want to see our part of town grow, which it is, but they want to see investment when their taxes go up. They don’t want to be ignored and that’s what they keep seeing,” Lawrence said, “I look at the tax incentives that we constantly give away to the big corporations, however, we always leave out local and small businesses and I think that we have to start fighting for every El Pasoan and not just big money critical donors.”

Both candidates said how crucial it is for El Pasoans to get involved and vote.

“I always tell people it’s not about me. It truly isn’t. It’s about our community and I want to empower every single resident in District 4, get them involved in the process,” Lawrence said.

“We’re living American history. Don’t just look at it, be a part of it. Exercise your right to vote,” Molinar added.

KTSM reached out to Dorothy Byrd, however, did not hear back. Family members of Shawn Nixon had no comment. At last check, Nixon is reportedly still in jail after being accused of funding his campaign with fraudulent checks.

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