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Interesting campaign draws attention

By Matthew Smith
Published On: Mar 29 2013 09:11:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 04 2013 06:11:37 PM CDT

ABC-7s Matthew Smith reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

East El Paso residents are getting a look at a new style of campaigning courtesy of mayoral candidate Robert Cormell.

It's quirky, maybe even gimmicky, but it's catching attention.

"I like it, it saves me a lot of steps," said Cormell.

In El Paso, block-walking wins elections. Block-walking is a term used in political circles that means walking door-to-door to get out your message.

Many candidates will block-walk this year, but no one skateboards while doing it -- except Cormell.

Cormell said he started doing it because it was easier on his knees, but the connection runs deeper.

For the past 15 years, Cormell has opened and run the Wayside Teen Center. Cormell and his wife began the nonprofit to help El Paso families. He often picks up trends his kids are into, skateboarding being one of them.

After more than 10 years, some of his "kids" have grown up and Cormell said he wants to do something more.

"We feel like they're family," said Cormell. "El Paso is our family and they're being represented poorly."

Cormell said the downtown ballpark was the perfect example. Hundreds of El Pasoans, if not more, felt alienated by not having a say.

While he doesn't believe it's right to turn back on decisions that have been made, he said that voters can no longer be alienated. Cormell said that it's sad that a city of more than 600,000 people will likely have it's next election decided by a tens of thousands of votes.

He said his vision for El Paso involves bringing more business to El Paso, and bringing a sense of service back to the Sun City. When pressed about his lack of experience, Cormell told ABC-7 that policy is a small part of the job that effort was more important.

Whether he gets a shot to prove his beliefs remains to be seen. Election day is May 11. In the meantime he plans to continue his unique "block-boarding" routine.

It drew enough attention this week that a film crew from FX showed up in town to highlight his campaign, and his work with his nonprofit. The crew couldn't comment on the details of the project, but those who saw the work certainly took notice.

"To be honest, I've not seen anyone else who has been on the campaign (trail) actually doing this from house to house," said Jimmy Rines, a soldier stationed at Fort Bliss. "Actually doing this house to house puts a lot of effort into what he's doing." 

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