El Paso Mayoral candidates focus on major challenges ahead of runoff election

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The local runoff elections are now just a little over a week away and all eyes are on the race for mayor of El Paso.

With the runoff election quickly approaching, KTSM 9 News spoke with both mayoral candidates who shared some final points as to why they believe they should earn your vote.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and former Mayor Oscar Leeser said they’re focusing on major challenges the city is going through during the pandemic. One of them — our local economy.

Leeser said when he was in office, he brought the unemployment rate down from 9 percent to 3.4 percent. “Right now, I can tell you that the unemployment rate is back over 9 percent and that people talk about that. We know how to bring that down, we know how to create jobs. We will work to make sure that we are in people’s business and they can trust to come to El Paso.”

Margo said the city’s budget was reduced by $16 million this year and had no increase on taxes. The current Mayor also added attracting more commercial and corporate investment will be key to creating an ideal tax base, and that there were many challenges left “undone” when he took office.

“We completed 222 projects of those quality of life bond projects since I’ve been Mayor, and he completed 8. We’ve had more jobs come in even despite of the pandemic than he did,” Margo explained. “We’ve had a net of $4,155. His, according to economic development statistics that the City gave me, was a total of $2,604. I know he talks his $18,000 and all that but that’s not correct. That’s bogus.”

Both candidates said the support for local businesses is extremely urgent right now.

“We’re an economy that’s primarily mid-size to small businesses. So we need to do all we can to assist them and that’s what we required our CARES Act funds for and we’re also requesting more support from the federal government for that cushion,” Margo said.

“There’s going to be a second round of the CARES package and it needs to be spent properly. I can tell you that it was not spent properly. We bought five buildings with our CARES package and we could’ve given it to our businesses who are struggling,” Leeser shared.

Margo said handling the COVID-19 crisis in El Paso continued. “We have plenty of resources coming from the state and the federal government and there is no rationing nor will there be rationing. I check with the hospital CEOs almost on a daily basis and they have all the PPE they need, all the medical personnel,” he said. “We have over 1,200 additional medical personnel here. In addition to that, the hospital systems here have created 550 new rooms. That’s the equivalent to almost 4 new Beaumont Hospitals.”

Leeser shared battling the COVID crisis is top priority as well, but also wants to become more united with local leaders and as a community.

“Our Mayor has disrespected the majority of our community and he has disrespected the majority of his council. I can tell you the majority of his council has reached out to me and talked to me of how we can unite and have one voice,” Leeser said. “I’m excited to work with the council, I’m excited to work with the County Judge which I talk now on a daily basis with.”

Both candidates continue to work for the community’s vote up until election day.

“Those other four that ran for office which is Ms. Carbajal, Mr. Gallinar, Mr. Martinez, Mr. Zielsdorf, they endorsed me. So 75 percent of the people that voted, who they voted for have endorsed me because they feel exactly how I do. We need to make sure that the people are heard and that we represent 100% of the people and not just the special interest group,” Leeser said.

“I’ve been in kind of a warzone since October of 2018 and my position is I want to complete the battle. You don’t change leaders in the middle of a battle,” Margo shared.

Election day is Dec. 12 and the last day of early voting is Dec. 8.

For more information on early voting for local runoff elections, click here.

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