Borderlands Voting Guide 2020: The El Paso Mayoral Election
by Hope Border Institute & Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso
Neither the Hope Border Institute, nor the Diocese of El Paso, endorse or oppose any candidates for public office. This guide is designed for educational purposes only.
Getting Ready to Vote
The Mayoral Election
What's on the Ballot
Dear Voters in the Borderlands,
As the Diocese of El Paso and the Hope Border Institute, we are very pleased to publish this first of its kind Borderlands Voting Guide 2020: the El Paso Mayoral Election.
Elections are a very important way of building a society in which each one of us, and all of us together, can thrive. This is what we call the common good.
Working for justice transforms us and it transforms the world. As Pope Francis says, all people of faith are called to make this world a little less cold and a little more just, and getting involved in public life through our vote is an important way of doing that.
Let us work together this November and into the future to make justice flourish here in the borderlands.
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz
Bishop of El Paso
Hope Border Institute
WHERE DO I VOTE?
Election Day will be Tuesday, November 3, 2020 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For the November 2020 Election, you can vote at any Vote Center on Election Day!
Early Voting will be from Tuesday ,October 13, 2020 through Friday, October 30, 2020.
For the November 2020 Election, you can vote at any Early Voting Location!
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO THE POLLS
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP
How do people of faith decide which candidate to vote for?
Voting requires a well-formed conscience. How do we do that?
We should always try to be attentive to the needs, the suffering and the possibilities in our community and in our world. We need to inform ourselves by reading the news with a critical eye and listening to others, including those who may not think like we do. And we need to listen to the voice of God who speaks to us in prayer, in the Scriptures, in our experience of walking with the poor, and in the teaching of the Church.
The bishops of the United States publish a document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, that covers many of the issues that should concern us as people of faith and it is well worth a good reading.
We also have to study the positions of the candidates, make sure we’re registered to vote, and research just what will be on the ballot. And we can’t forget to take into account the character and competence of candidates.
What are some of the issues that should concern people of faith during this election?
Pope Francis has asked us to think about the ways all of us have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Pope Francis says in Fratelli Tutti, ‘some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled, "not yet useful" – like the unborn, or "no longer needed" – like the elderly.
The pandemic has affected us all, but especially the poor, Latinos and African Americans. Why were some of us more vulnerable to the impacts of the disease, economically and physically?
It seems we’ve built up a society where many have been locked out of the benefits of our nation’s economic, social and political life and haven’t been able to share equally in our nation’s blessings. We have to be honest and admit that racial prejudice has also contributed to that. Not every family in our community or in our country has equal access to a good job, to good health care, to good housing, to good education and to good opportunities. Not everyone can look at a police officer without feeling fear.
The pope has said that this is really a time when God is calling our world to greater solidarity, which is another virtue that Christians bring to public life. As he puts it, ‘none of us is saved alone’. We have to re-discover that my flourishing and your flourishing are interconnected. As Saint Paul says, if one of us suffers, we all suffer. And we need political leaders who will empower our communities to rebuild with that sense of interdependence.
Something else the Holy Father has asked to consider is our relationship to God’s creation. He’s asking us to recognize that our exploitation of the earth and our exploitation of the poor are really related. We need to overcome the attitudes of harshness, competition, exclusion and lack of appreciation for the wonder of life that are at the root of so many of the challenges before us. We’re reaching a tipping point and we need to transcend the usual left-right, short-term political thinking in order to bring us back from the brink. It may be that this COVID-19 crisis is the opportunity to do just that.
Is it true that a Catholic must support one candidate over the others for president?
Society should defend and promote human life at all stages. Our pro-life commitment extends to to every human person and we should ensure that the poor, the vulnerable, migrants and the environment are at the center of our public policy concerns.
Our witness to life and our defense of the unborn reflect one of the Church’s most ancient teachings. We must work for a world where abortion is truly unthinkable. And we also have to support policies, like access to healthcare and support for families, that make abortion never appear to be the only choice.
The Chuch teaches that Catholics cannot vote for a candidate because he or she supports the taking of human life in legalized abortion, as does the Democratic candidate. Nor can a Catholic vote for a candidate in order to close the door to refugees or to support the death penalty, which are things the Republican candidate supports. But given the circumstances and after sincere discernment, we may find ourselves voting for one or another candidate in spite of those things (or even neither candidate in a particular race). And so Catholics may arrive at different answers regarding whom to vote for.
But however we vote, God will judge us by the authenticity of our commitment to continuing to stand with all those forced to the margins of our society, even after Election Day.
Prayer of Discernment
Invoke the presence of God. Recall in gratitude the gifts given to you by God and how divine love sustains our borderland community and our world. Consider what gives you feelings of gratitude, joy and excitement.
Call on the Spirit. Consider the needs of those in our community, our country and world who are most vulnerable, whether to racism, poverty or other types of exclusion. How is God present in their struggle? How is the Spirit calling upon you to respond? Take time to notice your feelings, anxieties, fears and hopes. Converse with God about all of this honestly and recognize the way the Spirit is leading you to consider what you might be called to do.
Trust. Call on God to direct your intentions and desires towards building up the common good and a society where each of us, and all of us together, can flourish and live up to our calling as children of God. Consider how you will respond anew to God’s invitation to participate in building up the Reign of God, including through your vote.
ELECTION 2020: MAYOR OF
This November, El Paso gets to elect a mayor!
The current incumbent, Mayor Dee Margo, is running alongside six challengers. If no candidate wins a majority in the general election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff, to be scheduled at a later date.
The El Paso mayoral race is non-partisan. Although individual candidates may belong to a political party, they do not identify party affiliation on the ballot.
Whoever is elected mayor will serve a four-year term.
Some things you should know about the Mayor of El Paso:
The Mayor is the ceremonial head of the City of El Paso
The Mayor represents El Paso within the city government and to other levels of government
The Mayor is a member of and presides over the City Council and has the power to propose legislation, veto legislation (except for any City Council action to remove the City Manager), break tie votes and convene special sessions of City Council
The Mayor appoints members of citizen advisory boards and commissions, with the consent of the City Council
WHO'S RUNNING FOR MAYOR?
WHERE DO THE CANDIDATES STAND?
We asked each of the candidates running for Mayor of El Paso the following long and short form questions. These are their answers.
Emerging from the Crisis Better
The pandemic has affected everyone in the borderlands but has hit the poor, working class families, immigrants and people of color hardest. As mayor, what specific policies will you pursue to prioritize an equitable recovery for the most vulnerable and ensure that we emerge from the current crisis stronger?
'The pandemic is a crisis, and we do not emerge from a crisis the same as before: either we come out of it better, or we come out of it worse.’
- Pope Francis
Last year, our community suffered a racially motivated terrorist attack and our nation continues to wrestle with ensuring dignity and equality for all people of color, including in the areas of policing and criminal justice. As mayor, what specific actions will you take to address systemic racism in the borderlands?
'We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.'
- Pope Francis
Addressing the Challenge of Climate Change
This past summer was one of the hottest in the history of the borderlands. As mayor, what will your plan be for a city response to addressing climate change? How will you leverage the city’s leadership role in moving our community away from fossil fuels and practices like fracking towards sustainable practices that protect the environment?
'We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.’
- Pope Francis
Integral Economic Development
Sometimes we hear that the necessary cost of economic development in El Paso is the displacement of more vulnerable communities, gentrification and the loss of our historic neighborhoods. As mayor, how will you pursue a broad-based economic development that provides meaningful opportunities for work with living wages, protects our cultural patrimony, and includes the participation of all?
'Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.’
- Pope Francis
A Community of Immigrants
El Paso has a noble tradition of providing hospitality to asylum seekers and migrants seeking a better life at our borders. As mayor, what leadership role will you play in the national debate around comprehensive immigration reform?
'We know that every effort to better society … is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.’
- Oscar Romero
Sanctity of Life
In January 2020, the Mayor of El Paso issued a proclamation in support of the National Sanctity of Human Life Day. Will you support similar proclamations in support of local pro-life organizations walking with expectant mothers in crisis pregnancies?
Do you support municipal IDs for El Paso's immigrant population?
Do you support the termination of the downtown arena project or its re-location away from historic neighborhoods?
Do you support the El Paso Electric Company's planned 228-megawatt Natural Gas generator, called ‘Newman 6’, which will generate power from fracked gas?
Do you support additional limits on campaign contributions for mayoral and city council races?
Do you support the expansion of the El Paso Police Department’s crisis intervention teams, which respond to emergencies involving the mentally ill?
ELECTION 2020: EL PASO CITY COUNCIL
This November, El Pasoans will have a chance to vote for City Representatives in Districts 2, 3, 4 and 7.
Not sure what district you live in? Find out using the District Locator.
The El Paso City Council race is non-partisan. Although individual candidates may belong to a political party, they do not identify party affiliation on the ballot.
Whoever is elected City Representative will serve a four year term. If no candidate wins a majority in the general election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff, to be scheduled at a later date.
Here are some things you should know about the El Paso City Council, City Representatives and the City Manager:
The City Council comprises the Mayor and City Representatives
The City Council has the power to pass local legislation
The City Council selects, directs and evaluates the City Manager
The City Manager is the chief administrative officer of the City and is responsible to the City Council for personnel management, the management of City departments and agencies, preparing and submitting the City budget, and providing regular financial reports
ELECTION 2020: EL PASO MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGES
For many El Pasoans, the El Paso Municipal Courts are their first experience with the justice system.
The El Paso Municipal Courts handle Class C misdemeanors and civil parking citations issued within the city limits. The El Paso Municipal Court of Appeals hears appeals filed from the El Paso Municipal Courts.
El Pasoans will have the opportunity to vote for judges in the five Municipal Courts as well as the judge for the Municipal Court of Appeals.
Here we list candidates for races where more than one candidate is on the ballot. Consult the City of El Paso Sample Ballot to learn more about other races.
VOTING TIP #1
Encourage somenone else to vote! It can be a family member, friend or neighbor.
ELECTION 2020: PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The president of the United States is the head of state, the chief executive officer of the federal government and the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
ELECTION 2020: US SENATOR
The Senate is the upper chamber of the legislature of the United States, the Congress. There are 100 members of the Senate, two senators per state for staggered six-year terms.
ELECTION 2020: US REPRESENTATIVE
The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the legislature of the United States, the Congress. The House is made up of representatives from districts allocated to each state based on the results of the U.S. Census.
VOTING TIP #2
Don't forget to celebrate! Post on social media or share a photo of your 'I voted sticker'.
ELECTION 2020: RAILROAD COMMISSIONER
The Railroad Commissioner oversees an agency that regulates the oil and gas industry including mining, propane and pipelines (the commission ceased regulating railroads in 2005). Commissioners are elected six-year terms.
ELECTION 2020: TEXAS SUPREME COURT
The Texas Supreme Court is the court of last resort for all civil matters in the State of Texas. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight judges. Judges are elected to six-year terms. The election for Place 6 is for an unexpired term.
ELECTION 2020: TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas. The Court is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges. Judges are elected to six-year terms.
VOTING TOP #3
Remember to wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you head to the polls.
ELECTION 2020: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
The State Board of Education sets policies and standards for Texas public schools. Members are elected to four-year terms.
ELECTION 2020: TEXAS STATE SENATOR
Residents of El Paso County will have a chance this November to elect a new Senator to the Texas Senate, the upper house of the bicameral Texas Legislature. The duties of the legislature include consideration of legislation and budgeting all funds for the operation of state government. State senators are elected for four-year terms.
ELECTION 2020: TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVES
Residents of Texas Districts 75-79 will have a chance this November to elect Representatives to the Texas House of Representatives, the lower house of the bicameral Texas Legislature. The duties of the legislature include consideration of legislation and budgeting all funds for the operation of state government. State Representatives are elected for two-year terms.
Here we list candidates for races where more than one candidate is on the ballot. Consult the County of El Paso Sample Ballot to learn more about other races.
ELECTION 2020: CHIEF JUSTICE, 8TH COURT OF APPEALS
The 8th Court of Appeals serves as the appellate jurisdiction of both civil and criminal cases for District Courts in El Paso County.
ELECTION 2020: COUNTY COMMISSIONER
Residents of El Paso County Commissioners Court Precinct 3 will have the opportunity to vote for a new County Commissioner.
Find out which Commissioners Court Precinct you live in here.
The El Paso County Commissioners Court has broad policy-setting responsibilities for El Paso County and is responsible for major infrastructure and maintenance, like roads and bridges. The Commissioners have many responsibilities, including approving the budget and tax rate, authorizing contracts and maintaining county buildings and facilities.
ELECTION 2020: DISTRICT COURT JUDGES
The district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in Texas. Here we list candidates for races where more than one candidate is on the ballot. Consult the County of El Paso Sample Ballot to learn more about other races.
ELECTION 2020: EL PASO CONSTABLES
El Pasoans will have the opportunity to vote for Constables in Precincts 2, 6 and 7. You can find your Constabulary Precinct here.
What is a Constable?
A Constable is a Peace Officer elected every four years for a precinct. Each Constable office is an independent law enforcement agency
Constables have the same duties and powers as do police officers and sheriffs, and may enforce all criminal and traffic laws and conduct criminal investigations
Constables serve all warrants, precepts, and civil process lawfully directed to them by the Justice Court
Constables are required by law to be present, or ensure a Deputy Constable is present, during hearings held by the Justice of the Peace
VOTING TIP #4
Before you leave home, make sure you have a photo ID with you.