Restoring and Strengthening our Democracy
I have worked tirelessly to strengthen our democracy, spearheading the creation of local policies that increase access to voting. It was my advocacy that brought about the creation of Vote Centers in El Paso County. This means that as of the 2020 Presidential elections and moving forward, registered voters can cast their ballots at any polling site in El Paso County on Election Day, and don’t have to worry about getting to their voting precinct polling place if they are unable to. I heavily pushed for making curbside and drive up voting available during the Pandemic, and requested we send out mail in ballot applications to everyone so that people didn’t have to worry about exercising their right to vote and risking their health and safety. I also pushed for expanding hours at polling places in order to allow working people more of an opportunity to cast their ballots. Though many of these actions were recently pre-empted by the Republican led State Legislature and Governor Abbott, I am proud to say that we had the highest ever turnout in El Paso County for the 2020 elections and our numbers of folks voting by mail increased threefold, as a result of our efforts to increase access. Huge thanks are in order for Lisa Wise, our County Elections Administrator, who put up with me and was willing to do so much.
I am also very proud of my office’s work to get as many people counted during the 2020 Census. I had the honor of serving as the Commissioners Court’s representative on the Complete Count Committee, as well as serving as a Co-Chair of that committee. The pandemic really hindered our efforts, as well as the Trump administration’s efforts to have a citizenship question placed on the questionnaire, but we made due with what we had and created a successful campaign, one that was looked at by many other communities in Texas as the model.
Of course, as the population fluctuates after a census count, redistricting must occur to even out the number of residents in each precinct or district at all levels of elected office. I advocated at the State Legislature for drawing of maps that kept partisan and political influences out and fair maps principles in the process. Unfortunately, the Republican led State Legislature was not interested in the same, and continued to gerrymander the districts they drew to their favor. However, at the County level, we had a very successful redistricting process that I am proud to say was led by my office, as we wrote and proposed the original framework for the creation of an independent redistricting advisory committee at the County. I appreciate all the work our nominees on that board did to make sure we followed the law and fair maps principles.