Building a Stronger, Fairer Economy
Since my first year in office in 2015 I have been a strong, progressive voice for a stronger and fairer economy. Though the County does not have the authority to require things like a living wage or paid family leave at businesses throughout our community, I have been at the forefront of pushing the County to at least lead by example. That means making sure that we pay all our employees what the market says they should make, that we close the gender pay gap, that we create non-discrimination policies, and more. I am proud to say that, due to my advocacy, the County will be paying a living wage of $13 dollars an hour starting this year. I also pushed University Medical Center and Emergence Health Network to pay living wages. Also, as a result of my work, by the end of 2022 El Paso County will also offer paid parental leave to all our employees.
I have made it a point to work with local unions to help them gain more access and membership. I led the push to allow SEIU more access to employees at University Medical Center by working with the CEO and union leadership to have membership drives and allowing posting of union materials in the hospital’s cafeterias or other spaces that are visible by employees. I have also worked closely with AFSCME to allow more access to potential members at the County by pushing to allow them to post their information, as well as having their presentations made part of orientation presentations for new County employees.
As the County continues to create and change economic development policies and utilize tools such as Chapter 381 tax rebates, I have ensured that we include requirements that deal with providing education, commitments to deal with gender wage gap disparities, as well as paying living wages.
I am committed to continuing to work to increase wages and promote workers’ rights, recognizing the efforts of unions and working with them, and making sure we enact stronger work-family policies.
Over my seven years in office, I have also prioritized making decisions with a “green” lens. This means advocating for making changes within the County to reduce our carbon footprint and be more sustainable in our energy usage. I am proud to say, that due to my advocacy, by the end of 2022 we plan to embark upon a project to retrofit our County facilities, creating savings that will pay for that investment. I will continue to advocate for greener strategies in economic development as well as capital projects like road construction. Speaking of road construction, I have been the principal opponent to the widening of I-10 downtown. I led the County in asking that the Texas Department of Transportation carry through an alternative that does not include widening the highway, as well as contracting a third party consultant to analyze TXDOT’s projections being utilized to provide a basis for the need for this project, which I believe are heavily flawed. They claim that structural integrity, a need for more safety, and projected congestion are the reasons we need to widen the highway. They may be correct in that the highway needs to be redone because it is aging and falling apart in many places. However, the plan to widen, which, according to them will allow traffic to pass through the area at a greater rate of velocity will not create more safety. Higher rates of speed are known to cause more, serious crashes. And, when it comes to congestion, there really is no congestion at this point in time, also it is pretty well known that widening roadways does not reduce congestion in the long run, it only induces more traffic. This means more truck traffic coming through our City’s core, creating more pollution, noise, vibration and heat island effects in areas that are typically low income and mostly made up of people of color. We should be trying to undo the damage that was done to these communities when the highway ripped them apart when it was originally laid in the 1960’s, not making it worse by subjecting them to further health hazards and a lower quality of life. This project is not only going to be one of the worst in my generation for people that live close to the highway, but it will be so detrimental to our climate. This is something we do not need, especially when we are considered a non-attainment zone by the EPA and should be trying to mitigate pollution, not create more of it.