Breaking News – City council does not override Oscar Leeser’s veto and instead deleted the item. City council will bring an item in a future meeting to reconsider extending Gonzalez’ contract because he has already withdrawn his name application for the Frisco city manager position.
Last week city representatives Peter Svarzbein, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Henry Rivera and Cissy Lizarraga voted to extend Gonzalez’ contract. As previously reported by us, city council voted on May 16, 2022, to extend Tommy Gonzalez’ contract in response to news reports that Gonzalez was a finalist for the Frisco, Texas city manager position.
Before voting on overriding the mayor’s veto, city council retired into executive session.
When city council came out of executive session at 1:46 p.m. Cassandra Hernandez announced that the action to override the veto was to be deleted. City council members who voted to delete the item were: Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Henry Rivera, Cissy Lizarraga, Claudia Rodriguez, Alexsandra Annello and Joe Molinar. Peter Svarzbein voted no.
In addition to today’s city council vote on the city manager’s contract, several groups are exploring adding a charter amendment item to the November 2022 elections on the question of whether voters wish to keep the city manager form of government or revert to the strong-mayor form of government. City council has until early July 2022 to add the measure to the November ballot. There are two avenues to give El Paso voters a vote on the matter. One is for one or more city representative to add an agenda item to the city council agenda asking city representatives to support the measure. The second is a citizen initiative petition forcing city council to add the measure. One former elected official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they will be meeting with constituents later this week to discuss the matter. The individual will decide within the next few weeks on whether to launch a petition drive, run as a candidate for an open seat on council, or both. El Paso Politics will continue to monitor this and we will report as more information becomes available.
Veronica Carbajal’s group, Justicia Fronteriza, issued a call to action on May 20, 2022, in opposition to overriding Leeser’s veto. Carbajal also called for her followers to rally in opposition to the veto override. The El Paso Community First Coalition met on Saturday and today issued a press release to the news media where it says that they have concluded that “the city is principally led by the City Manager and the roles of elected officials and [city] employees appear to be reversed,” according to Carmen Rodriguez. Lily Limón added that “the city manager does not have a competing job offer at this time,” urging council to “trust the Mayor and uphold his veto.”
As reported by El Paso Politics, Tommy Gonzalez stands to be paid almost one million dollars when he leaves the city, whether because of a new job or should city council not renew his contract.
Update at 17:00ET:
City council voted on item no: 9 in today’s session to extend Tommy Gonzalez’ existing contract by five years. Item number nine to “amend the employment agreement” for the city manager provided city council the option to extend the city manager’s 2018 contract and extend the contract to 2029 from its current 2024 expiration date. Voting in favor of the extension were Peter Svarzbien, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Claudia Lizette Rodriguez, Henry Rivera and Cissy Lizarraga. Voting no were Alexsandra Annello and Joe Molinar.