(This article was updated on October 20, 2020 at 08:00 a.m., eastern time to clarify that Vangie Balderrama is not a member of the League of Women Voters. The article was further updated at 10:55 a.m. to further clarify that the discussion about Oaxaca was at an event at the League of Women Voters and not a meeting.)
On Saturday there was some controversy at the Carolina Center between Democratic Party Chair, Dora Oaxaca and poll sitter Iris Leppard. According to sources with first-hand knowledge, Leppard was poll sitting at the Carolina Center when she was accosted by Oaxaca.
El Paso Politics interviewed Leppard via telephone. Leppard told El Paso Politics that she was poll sitting at the Carolina Center on Saturday when a woman, later identified as Democratic Party Chairwoman Dora Oaxaca, accosted her at the polls. According to Leppard, she was taking some selfies wearing an Iliana Holguin T-shirt and a Phyllis Martinez Gonzalez face mask. Holguin is the former chairwoman of the Democratic Party and currently facing a Republican challenger for a county commissioner’s seat. Phyllis Martinez Gonzalez (R) is challenging Lyda Ness Garcia (D) for judge of the the 383rd Family Court.
Iris Leppard told us that Oaxaca drove up to the Carolina Center where Leppard was taking her selfies with other poll sitters when Oaxaca started taking pictures of Lepper. According to Lepper, she told Dora Oaxaca to stop taking her picture and advised her that she was not authorized to share the pictures anywhere.
“About 20 minutes later,” Leppard said that she started receiving telephone calls that her image was posted on social media.
According to Iris Leppard, the photograph that Dora Oaxaca took was shared to Jaime Abeytia. Abeytia published the photograph on his Twitter feed. As El Paso Politics reported yesterday, Abeytia is a “dirty trickster” political operative, with an extensive criminal record, who is often used by candidates to start whisper campaigns to hurt their opponents.
Leppard told El Paso Politics that in addition to someone taking an unauthorized photograph of her, she is also bothered by the way the photograph was manipulated. “What Dora Oaxaca did was intended to intimidate me,” she told us.
Iris Leppard, who has a radio show on KVIV Radio, said she will be discussing this issue on her radio program tomorrow, October 20, 2020, as she feels it was an attempt to silence her right to participate in the election process by intimidation.
The latest incident involving Oaxaca is forcing some El Paso Democratic Party officials to question Oaxaca’s chairmanship.
The Dora Oaxaca Republican Event Problem
As El Paso Politics reported earlier, Dora Oaxaca was photographed along with Henry Rivera, a candidate for El Paso City Council District 7, at the annual Republican Lincoln Day event in 2017. Oaxaca is the current chair of the Democratic Party and her attendance at the Republican event has concerned some long-time Democratic Party members.
El Paso Politics spoke to an active member of the Democratic Party about Oaxaca’s attendance at the Republican event. The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity so that they could share internal conversations without the fear of reprisals. According to the individual, the Democratic Party can “technically” do nothing about Oaxaca’s attendance at the Republican event because “it was three years ago, before she became the chair.”
The official said that Oaxaca’s attendance at the Republican event “was not enough to call for her resignation.”
However, they told us that Henry Rivera’s attendance at the event “was a bigger issue because he was running as a Democrat while Democrats were outside” protesting Greg Abbott.
El Paso Democratic Party Precinct Chair for Precinct 16, Vangie Balderrama told El Paso Politics that she was new to El Paso politics but was now getting involved. Balderrama said that at an event at the League of Women Voters, she did “not hear flattering things about” Dora Oaxaca. Balderrama is not a member of the League of Women Voters.
Balderrama added that she was “disgusted by the whole thing” when she found out that Oaxaca had attended the Republican event. “You don’t go from going to the event, all in red, and then suddenly turn around and do the opposite” by becoming chair of the Democratic Party. Balderrama told us that she wants to ask Oaxaca, “face to face what she was thinking” by going to the event. For Balderrama, who is “disheartened” by the migrant child crisis, Oaxaca’s attendance at the Republican event is “a sad day.”
El Paso Politics asked Balderrama if the Democratic Party was going to address Oaxaca’s Republican event attendance. Balderrama replied that the consensus is that the party “is trying to show a united front for Biden,” now, but that she expects the issue to come up again after the elections.
Vangie Balderrama closed by saying that she wants Dora Oaxaca “to look at me and tell me why I shouldn’t be disappointed.”
El Paso Politics will continue to monitor the situation and report any updates as necessary.
- Iris Leppard, telephone interview by author on October 19, 2020. The telephone interview was conducted in Spanish.
- Telephone interview with active member of the El Paso Democratic Party with knowledge of the internal discussions about Oaxaca and her attendance at the Republican event on October 19, 2020. El Paso Politics agreed to withhold their identity so that they could speak freely about the internal discussions.
- Evangelina “Vangie” Balderrama, telephone interview with author on October 19, 2020.