An El Paso City Council candidate said people can be blessed or cursed by God and that the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan may have been a curse.
"Japan had built tsunami walls along their coasts, but this tsunami was bigger than that. No matter what you say, they either weren't blessed with protection or they were cursed with an earthquake," Malcolm McGregor III said. "God did say, Christ did say that earthquakes would increase in the last days and that's what we're seeing."
The earthquake near Japan and the tsunami that followed has killed more than 3,300 people and almost 7,000 are still missing.
McGregor, who is running for City Council in District 8, said he would bring a conservative, Christian, theocratic point of view to City Council and fight for City Council to be more business friendly. District 8 encompasses Downtown, Segundo Barrio and parts of West El Paso.
The candidate also said he hasn't seen the same conservative, Christian views in others running for the District 8 seat. He said God must be a central focus in government.
"If we want God to be over us, every time City Council meets, they'd have an invocation where they ask for God's blessing," McGregor said. " OK, well, God can get mad at us, too."
McGregor is part of the group El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, which successfully put a ballot on last November's agenda to take away the health insurance of gay and unwed partners of city employees. The citizens' referendum passed by 52 percent, and the constitutionality of the ordinance is being looked at by a federal judge.
He and District 5 candidate Sonia Brown are defendants in the federal case. The judge allowed them to intervene in the case and defend the voter-approved referendum. Brown and McGregor have spoken against health insurance for gay and unwed partners of city employees during City Council meetings in recent months.
McGregor said it's not just the domestic benefits issue that led him to run. McGregor wants more business-friendly regulations for property owners, such as more lax code regulations for remodeled property and an increase in parking for businesses. He said he empathizes with the business community because he's had to deal with parking reductions and strict regulations from the city. He said he's seen "the city government's ability to provide a consistent society for business degrade over the last twenty years."
He added he's seen building codes affect his own business. "If you do any electrical in your add-on or plumbing, you have to upgrade all of the plumbing and electrical in all of your building. That makes it cost-prohibitive to do minor renovations and improvements."
ABC-7 stopped by McGregor's home Tuesday morning to inquire whether he lives in District 8 and is eligible to run for the seat. McGregor owns property in five counties in Texas and New Mexico and rents out apartments in Central El Paso. In his candidate application, McGregor lists a Mesa address as his private residence.
The Central Appraisal District says that property is actually owned by the McGregor family business and it does not claim a homestead exemption. ABC-7 found he owns a home in Dona Ana County. McGregor told ABC-7 his New Mexico estate had been passed down to him by his father but is not his primary home.
McGregor refused to let ABC-7 inside the El Paso house where his business is registered and where he says he also lives. He did show ABC-7 his driver license with that address on it. ABC-7 checked the property's zoning with the city and it's perfectly legal for McGregor to live and work in the house.
McGregor is running against Jorge Artelejo, Cortney Carlisle Niland, Ernesto Villanueva Jr., Sergio Contreras, Lisa Turner and Gilbert Guillen. Current City Representatve Beto O'Rourke is not running.