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El Paso City Council devolved into name calling between city representatives and the mayor. The mayor called the city representative a “liar,” while another city council member labelled the “liar” city presentative a “little 39-cent, two-bit jerk.”

Many readers may believe that the name calling at the city council meeting happened at the last meeting or in some other recent meeting. Readers are accustomed to seeing city council meetings degenerate into name-calling spectacles.

But El Paso politics has a long history of government disfunction.

The city council meeting of May 21, 1991 was punctuated by Mayor Suzie Azar calling city representative Jay J. Armes a “liar”. But it wasn’t an isolated incident of loss of decorum.

El Paso is El Paso because it is a colorful city where Mexican food is served with heaping mounds of political shenanigans that have led to one of the highest taxes in the nation.

Jay J. Armes has a long colorful history in El Paso complete with television appearances and controversies. He is also an example of “white washing” in El Paso. (more on this tomorrow)

The Azar “liar” comment was just one of others that punctuated the meeting. Suzie Azar had just lost the mayoral seat to Bill Tinley. Two other city council races remained unresolved. The candidates were in runoff scheduled for the following Saturday.

Bob Bowling was facing Stan Roberts for the Northeast. And David Chew was facing Jesus “Chuy” Terrazas. Bowling, with 37% of the vote was arguing that his “progressive ideas” made him the best candidate. Bowling promised to “hold down taxes”. His opponent, Stan Roberts was going into the run-off with 36% of the vote. Roberts focused on “paving streets” and “fixing traffic lights”.

In the other race, David Chew, the incumbent, focused on restoring the Plaza Theater. His challenger, Chuy Terrazas was running against Chew, because Chew “hasn’t done a good job” as city representative.

The point of contention – like in most city council races in El Paso – were taxes and power brokers attempting to control El Paso politics. Jay J. Armes was being accused of building a “political coalition” at city council. Armes was backing Terrazas.

During the 1991 meeting, city representative Arves Jones called Jay J. Armes a “little 39-cent, two-bit jerk”. Arves was alluding to Jay J. Armes losing the coalition he was attempting to build. “Little 39-cent, two bit” was a reference to the losing value of the Mexican Peso at the time.

Stan Roberts beat Bowling and David Chew lost to Terrazas.

Note: this article is adopted from the author’s upcoming book; El Paso Corruption.

Martin Paredes

Reporting on public corruption, border politics, immigration and public policy in El Paso since 2000.