The controversy over the extension of Tommy Gonzalez’ contract and pay raise remains ongoing. City council is scheduled to vote on Monday to override Oscar Leeser’s veto of Gonzalez’ contract. On May 16, 2022, city council voted five to three to extend Gonzalez’ contract after it was reported Gonzalez was a finalist for the Frisco, Texas city manager position. Two days later, on May 18, 2022, Oscar Leeser vetoed city council’s action after Tommy Gonzalez had withdrawn his application for the Frisco job.
On Monday, city council will be voting on item number six on the May 23, 2022, Work Session scheduled to start at 9:05 in the morning. Item number six calls for “Discussion and action to override the Mayor’s Veto of the May 16, 2022, motion of City Council authorizing the First Amendment to the Amended and Restated Employment Agreement between the City of El Paso and Tomas Gonzalez, which lists the amended terms.” The agenda item to override the veto was added by Cassandra Hernandez.
The five city representatives that voted in favor of the extension of Gonzalez’ contract were Peter Svarzbein, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Henry Rivera and Cissy Lizarraga. The three members who voted against were Alexsandra Annello, Joe Molinar and Claudia Rodriguez. Of the three, only Rodriguez is likely to vote in favor of overriding the mayor’s veto. Two sources, on condition of anonymity with first-hand knowledge, have confirmed that Rodriguez will vote to override the veto.
In other city council action on the same day, the Charter Amendment Ad-Hoc Committee will present to city council its list of recommendations for charter amendment items to be added to the November 2022 ballot. Most of the items addressed by the ad-hoc committee are so-called housekeeping items that clarify or clean up the city charter. However, one item was discussed in their meeting of May 5, 2022.
The item was to review the powers of the mayor. Under consideration is removing the veto power of the mayor and giving voting authority on city council measures. Currently the mayor does not vote on items before city council and can only veto items approved by city council, as he did with the Tommy Gonzalez issue. The proposed charter amendment gives the mayor the right to vote on city council measures. Because the minutes of the May 19, 2022, Ad-Hoc Committee meeting have not been published it is unknown if Monday’s presentation will include discussion about a proposal to make changes to the citizen initiative petition process. However, it is likely that the changes in the mayor’s powers will be discussed.
The resolution establishing the Ad-Hoc Committee provides for city council to receive the committee’s final recommendations by July 5, 2022.
Stay tuned to El Paso Politics for new information as it becomes available.