The recall failure was announced in a press release issued yesterday evening by Irene Armendariz-Jackson, the organizer of the recall against Cassandra Hernandez. Armendariz-Jackson announced the recall effort in front of city hall on September 8. The group had 60 days to collect a little less than 5,000 signatures from District 3 registered voters. The deadline to submit the required signatures was today.
Armendariz-Jackson said when she announced the recall effort that Hernandez’ use of the city-issued fuel card was “a complete travesty and a complete abuse of power.” District 3 resident George Zavala, a disabilities activist and contributor to El Paso News. filed a complaint on May 26 against Hernandez for her use of the city-issued gasoline card. Zavala was prompted to file the ethics complaint after the City’s Financial Oversight & Audit Committee issued an audit report accusing Hernandez of misusing her city-issued gasoline card.
After two days of testimony, the El Paso Ethics Review Commission issued a letter of reprimand to Cassandra Hernandez. The letter of reprimand is the third most severe sanction the commission can issue.
For her part, Hernandez responded to the recall effort against her by stating that she had three times being elected and was “proud” of her “track record,” arguing that as a city representative her work has resulted in “over $100 million in funding for District 3 police and fire stations, streets and parks.”
Hernandez was previously removed from office after a volunteer inadvertently posted a campaign announcement on her social media announcing that she was running for mayor in 2019. Hernandez ran in the November 5, 2019 election to regain her seat. Hernandez defeated Will Veliz, who had forced her into a runoff, with 53% of the vote.
Although municipal offices are non-partisan, Armendariz-Jackson who ran twice as a Republican and lost to Veronica Escobar, a Democrat become an issue during the recall effort. In an email to his email list, Max Grossman disclosed that El Paso Democratic Party chair, Michael Apodaca issued a press release telling District 3 voters not to sign the petition. Apodaca did not have the authority of the Party Committee to issue the press release in the name of the local Democrats.
In her press release, Armendariz-Jackson wrote that the petition organizers “found the task of gathering the requisite number of signatures very challenging.” She added that Apodaca’s press release made the signature gathering effort “even more difficult.”
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