El Paso City Council District 7 incumbent Henry Rivera, 62 is being challenged by former El Paso Times reporter, Aaron Montes, 28. Rivera was elected on May 6, 2017. He is a former El Paso Police officer. The incumbent outraised his challenger $37,800 to $7,173, according to the latest campaign finance reports. Rivera has spent $16,197.62. Montes spent $5,397 during the same period.
Although the city council race is a non-partisan race, some candidates have made party affiliation part of the election because this is the first time that city races are being held alongside state and national elections. Particularly, mayoral candidate Carlos Gallinar has showcased his Democratic Party affiliation. Another mayoral candidate, Veronica Carbajal, has also showcased her Latina heritage and Democratic Party affiliation.
Reviewing the Henry Rivera 30-day campaign finance report shows a heavily Republican donor base. Over 40% of Rivera’s campaign donations seem to come from El Paso Republicans.
Much of the donor base for Henry Rivera comes from the commercial and real estate developers. Among the Rivera campaign contributors are Woody Hunt $2,500, Richard Aguilar $1,500, Stanley Jobe $1,000 and Douglas Schwartz $1,000. The Bowlings of Tropicana Homes also contributed $5,000 to Rivera’s campaign.
The Texas Realtors Political Action Committee (TREPAC) also contributed $3,000 to Rivera.
Also, Frederick Francis, $2,500 and E.C. Houghton, $1,000 also contributed to the Rivera campaign.
Over 80% of Henry Rivera’s campaign contributions are overwhelmingly from the banking and construction industries.
Abbott Greeted By Protestors in 2017 While Rivera Attends His Dinner
In 2017, Texas governor Greg Abbott was met by protestors in El Paso who opposed Senate Bill 4 (SB 4). SB4 bans sanctuary cities in Texas by withholding funds. Abbott signed the legislation into law on May 7, 2017.
Abbott was in the city to attend the 30th Annual Republican Lincoln Day Dinner.
Among the attendees of the event at the Blackstone Event Center were Henry Rivera and his wife, Dora Oaxaca. Oaxaca was recently elected as the Democratic Party chairwoman. Her term ends on March 1, 2022.
The Republican Party Lincoln Day is held annually. Local Republican Party officials usually invite state GOP officials to the event. Greg Abbott was invited in 2014 and again, in 2017. As Abbott spoke about his legislative priorities, protestors marched outside protesting the Trump wall and the SB4 legislation.
The picture from February 18, 2017 event, was sent to El Paso Politics by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous. According to the sender, the picture was taken at the event. El Paso Politics reviewed other pictures of the event published by the El Paso Inc. We also reviewed 11 pictures of the event published online by the El Paso Times. The pictures we reviewed suggest that the picture sent to us was also taken at the event.
The picture shows Henry Rivera, Dora Oaxaca and then-El Paso GOP county chair, Adolfo Tellez and Connie Vasquez.
Another attendee was Woody Hunt, according to a picture published by the El Paso, Inc.
The El Paso Politics sent an email to Henry Rivera via his El Paso City Council district contact form asking for a comment from Rivera. As of the publication time, we have not heard back from Rivera. Should Rivera send us a statement, we will update the article.
In a telephone interview today, Aaron Montes stated he covered the 2017 event on behalf of El Diario. Montes said that Abbott “toasted” his efforts about SB4 during the event. Asked if he had seen Rivera or his wife Dora Oaxaca, at the event, Montes said that he did not.
Montes added that the event’s topic was “very harmful” to the community.
Rivera Hot Mike Profanity
Earlier this year, Rivera was accused of uttering “so what the f— are you complaining about? F—ing idiot” to a speaker speaking before the city council meeting. Sito Negron, the district director for José Rodríguez was the speaker. Although Rivera denied directing his profanity towards Negron, he has refused to identify who he had directed the profanity to. Negron, for his part, told the El Paso Times that he felt the profanity was directed at him. 
Aaron Montes Fears Republican Influence Over His Opponent
When asked by the El Paso Politics what stands him apart from his opponent, Arron Montes provided the following statement:
“We can all agree that we have friends and family who vary in political opinion. But this is way beyond that.
We are in an election season where the future of our country, state and city are at stake and my opponent is receiving money from financial supporters who are actively trying to keep Donald Trump, John Cronyn and Republicans in power. They are even providing support to the Republican candidate facing Gina Ortiz Jones.
These contributions are made at the municipal level to drown out a candidate challenging the status quo.
I pose the question, when will we stop tolerating this?
These same donors benefit from keeping the political system in El Paso the same at a point where we need real changes.
It’s time we push for the change that will benefit El Pasoans and make elections fair. This is the moment where we need to push back against these practices and advocate for campaign finance reform at the municipal level.”
- Molly Smith, “El Paso City Rep. claims he was not referring to member of public as a ‘f—ing idiot’,” El Paso Times, April 30, 2020.