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Special election to replace El Paso City Rep. Holguin, judge Olivo to cost $180,000 or more

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:37:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 07:56:08 PM CST

Special election to replace City Rep., judge will be costly

EL PASO, Texas -

A special election to replace City Rep. Eddie Holguin and Municipal Judge Rick Olivo will cost taxpayers between $180,000 and $250,000, city attorneys said Tuesday.

Holguin is running for County Judge and Olivo is a candidate for 205th District Court.

News of the high cost angered some government watchdogs who attended the Council meeting.

"Neither one of the two candidates who are quitting their present position and I say quitting because they're quitters never ever ever told the people who would elect them that 'hey I'm only going to be in office for a partial term," said Lisa Turner.

Holguin promised the opposite.

In November of 2012 when rumors swirled about Holguin possibly running for Mayor, the City Rep. denied the gossip on his Facebook page and wrote: "I want to let all my friends and constituents know that I am fully committed to completing my current term for representative district #6."

City Council voted to hold the special election to replace him and Olivo on July 19th, pending approval from Gov. Rick Perry.

The Texas Constitution does not allow any other election to be held along with a primary election, which means the City cannot hold the special election in March on the same date Holguin will find out if his bid for County Judge is successful.

Because the City does not have the equipment to hold elections, it contracts the County to conduct municipal elections. City Attorney Sylvia Firth said the earliest the County can conduct a special election for the City is July 19.

In a letter to County Elections Administrator Javier Chacon, the company who provides ballot machines for the County, Dominion Voting, wrote it did not have the staffing or units available for an election in May or June.

City officials will work with the County Elections Department to determine the exact cost of the election, said Firth. Turner said the City should force Holguin and Olivo to pay the special election cost.

"They want to cut short their term and go on to something else, than bill them for this election. You don't cut and run because something better opens for you. You're wasting our money and your wasting our time," she told Holguin. Another speaker asked Holguin to resign and stop accepting his salary so the money could be used for his election.

Holguin did not respond to the speakers. Holguin earns about $30,000 a year.

ABC-7 approached Holguin at the City Council meeting seeking comment about the election cost but he refused an interview, saying he would not speak to ABC-7 and did not answer why. Holguin ended up agreeing to an interview with ABC-7 when contacted Tuesday night.

Holguin, a Democrat, is running for County Judge against incumbent Veronica Escobar and businesswoman Aliana Apodaca, both of whom are Democrats. No Republicans are running for the position.

About the cost of the special election, Apodaca said, "This particular action has had some consequences that are going to cost the taxpayer money, and that's not a good thing. Did he weigh the consequences to his action? What do these actions tell us? Is he saying one thing and doing another? One could come to that conclusion."

And Escobar said, "Forcing the City to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars so Mr. Holguin can advance his own political ambitions does not put taxpayers first."

Holguin said he knew the City was going to have a special citywide election anyway when he decided to run for County Judge.

"You know my opponents can say whatever they want for political gain but the reality is that an election was already going to be had for a municipal judge, which has enormous costs citywide," Holguin told ABC-7 Tuesday night. "A district race being added to that race really has no cost."

Olivo's election is citywide, which costs $180,000. Holguin's is only districtwide -- costing around $35 to $55,000

Holguin says the only reason he decided to run is because is running for a bigger court.

ABC-7 reporter Ashlie Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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