Yesterday, former assistant district attorney and 2020 candidate, James Montoya took to Facebook to announce that he will run for the District Attorney office again in 2024. Montoya’s message on Facebook said that his represents an “opportunity for a new collaborative version of justice for El Paso.”
Today, Montoya will make his official announcement at 5:30. Montoya is holding a Campaign Kick-Off at the 501 Bar & Bistro. The event is open to the public, according to the Facebook invitation.
In July 2020, Yvonne Rosales defeated Montoya in a runoff election to become the first woman district attorney for El Paso, Culberson and Hudspeth counties. Rosales took office on January 1, 2021. From the moment she assumed the office, Rosales became controversial. Within weeks Rosales faced an ethics complaint for the use of $2,604 in forfeiture funds. Rosales was then criticized for a backlog in the prosecutions of criminal cases.
On August 24, 2022, Omar Carmona, who is running for judge of the 68th District Court in the upcoming 2024 elections, filed a petition seeking to remove Rosales from office for incompetence. On November 28, 2022, Rosales announced she was resigning her office on December 15, 2022, on the eve of the court hearing seeking to suspend her before her trial to remove her from office scheduled for March 2023. Because of her resignation, the petition to remove her from office became moot.
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On December 14, 2022, Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed Bill Hicks to fill Rosales’ unexpired term. Hick’s appointment made him the first Republican to serve as the district attorney in El Paso. Hicks told the El Paso Inc. in May that he is “sure that eventually” he will file to keep his office. As of press time, Hicks has not made an official announcement. If Hicks files to keep his seat, he will be running on the Republican ticket.
When Rosales resigned as the district attorney, KFOX interviewed Montoya. Montoya told the television station that “I told you so,” alluding to his 2020 campaign’s messaging that Rosales was unprepared to lead the district attorney’s office. Soon after Rosales’ resignation, Montoya said he was considering running for the office in 2024.
Montoya’s first job, after graduating from law school in 2013, was working for Jaime Esparza at the district attorney’s office. Montoya worked in the DA’s Special Crimes Unit. In the 2020 election race between Montoya, and Rosales, the El Paso Times endorsed Montoya. The newspaper wrote that Montoya would keep “stability in the DA’s office.”
In addition to working in the district attorney’s office, Montoya was part of the City of El Paso Charter Advisory Committee. Montoya says that he was an “integral” part of the drafting and passing the pay increase for city council members while on the committee in 2018.
Hicks and Montoya are not the only candidates seeking the office. Nancy Casas is also running. Casas announced on May 11, 2023. Casas is one of three former assistant district attorneys fired by Rosales. Rosales had accused Casas and two other attorneys of “undermining” her office.
Although the filing period for the 2024 elections isn’t until November 11, several candidates have been announcing early in preparation for what will likely be a crowded field of candidates for several offices in the upcoming March primaries. El Paso Democrats are also preparing for El Paso to be highlighted during the Texas Democratic Party Presidential State Convention to be held in the city, shortly after the primaries on March 5th. President Joe Biden has been rumored to paying a visit to El Paso during the convention, although a formal announcement has not been made.
El Paso News will continue to monitor and report as candidates continue to announce runs for office.