As first reported by El Paso Politics, Claudia Ordaz Perez moved her residence out of her marital home into a home she had previously purchased, currently used by her parents, in Art Fierro’s district to run against him in the upcoming election. Under the new district maps, signed into law last week by the Texas governor, Perez Ordaz’ district was merged with Lina Ortega’s district. Instead of running against Ortega, Claudia Ordaz Perez has moved into her home with her parents to run against Art Fierro.
According to County election records, Claudia Ordaz Perez’ change of address will become effective November 7, 2021, making her move into Art Fierro’s district valid by one day under the Texas election laws. In her statement sent to the news media, Ordaz Perez said that “El Paso’s redrawn maps sadly epitomize what Texas Republicans are trying to achieve statewide,” alluding to the Republican-dominated Texas legislators as redistricting her out of her district to dilute Democrats in the upcoming elections.
Ordaz Perez added in her statement that the “representative with less seniority” was “left unscathed” by the redistricting. However, Fierro was elected in 2019 and Claudia Ordaz Perez was elected in 2020, making her the official with the least seniority in the El Paso delegation.
For his part, Art Fierro told KTSM late yesterday that what he finds surprising is that Ordaz Perez “doesn’t want to stay in her district and represent her people,” adding that Ordaz Perez “wants to go into someone else’s district and represent a different constituency.”
Although there have been rumors of a challenge to Ordaz Perez’ residency requirements, her move into Art Fierro’s district makes her eligible by one day.
Claudia’s Husband, Vince Perez, Challenged Residency Requirements Of Opponent In 2015
On December 29, 2015, Vince Perez, Ordaz Perez’ husband filed a lawsuit against the El Paso Democratic Party, among others, asking that Antonio “Tony” Quintanilla be removed from the March 2016 Democratic Primary because Quintanilla did not meet the residency requirements to run in that primary.
According to the court documents, Quintanilla filed to run in Precinct 3 on December 11, 2015. At issue in that court case was whether Quintanilla met the requirements to run for office in Precinct 3. The court documents state that Quintanilla “changed his voter registration on December 7, 2015, only eight days before the December 14, 2015 filing deadline.”
Although Claudia Ordaz Perez changed her address, like Quintanilla, the requirements differ between a commissioners race and a state representative. Her new registration is effective on November 7, 2021. The election law only requires her to be living at her new address one year before the general election. The next general election is scheduled for November 8, 2022, making Ordaz Perez’ change of address one day more than the statutory requirement to run in Fierro’s district.
Claudia Ordaz Perez Not First To Move For Election In El Paso
In 2007, Dee Margo moved out his home in Kern Place into a Shadow Mountain apartment in District 78 to run against Pat Haggerty in 2008. Haggerty lost to Margo in the 2008 Republican primary and Margo was defeated by Joe Moody in the general election. Margo was accused of being a “carpet bagger” in support of Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick. Haggerty had protested Craddick’s leadership.
Margo told the El Paso Times in 2007 that he and his wife moved into an apartment in Haggerty’s district to build a home and that the move “was made unrelated to any political office-seeking.”  Margo had lost to Eliot Shapleigh the year before.
Claudia Ordaz Perez has not made a statement as to her reasons for moving into her home with her parents. Left unanswered is whether Ordaz Perez will live separate from her husband at her new home or will the couple use both homes. Unsubstantiated rumors about a marital split have been made, but sources told El Paso Politics that Vince Perez was at Ordaz Perez’ announcement last night, although it appears he did not participate in the event.
Residency requirements in Texas are difficult as Texas is a community property state that does not have a legal definition for a “separated” marriage. Commonly, Texas residency is defined as where one sleeps. However, Claudia Ordaz Perez’ change of address for her election residency meets the statutory requirement by one day.
- Petition for Writ of Mandamus, Eighth Court of Appeals Texas, In Re Vincent M. Perez (08-15-00381-CV).
- Brandi Grissom, “Dee Margo to challenge Haggerty for state job,” El Paso Times, December 19, 2007.