Looks like a lot of the election excitement in this election will be down in the valley in the race for County Commissioner Precinct #3, currently held by Willie Gandara Jr.
Vincent Perez, Communications Director for Congressman Reyes is likely to challenge Willie Gandara for County Commissioner Precinct #3, according to multiple sources who have had conversations with Perez. The guy knows the complexities of Washington politics and national issues, so county-level issues would be a breeze for him.
Other sources in the Democratic Party indicate that Dora Oaxaca, a former staffer for Chente Quintanilla and current staffer for Willie Gandara, will be running Gandara's campaign for re-election. This puts Oaxaca under a lot of pressure to resign as Gandara's staffer because there were allegations that she was campaigning on County time during the last city election.
Gandara probably won't want to deal with questions about that issue, so Oaxaca may have to step down to run the campaign.
State Rep Chente Quintanilla will not likely back off his bid to run against Gandara for a couple of reasons. #1, its already floating around that he is going to run and #2, the Gandara name doesn't mean what it used to in the valley these days.
Gandara is going to have his hands full for a couple of reasons. #1, he has a voting record that is going to come under scrutiny due to the Farah Building Project and the Tornillo Bridge. #2, his biggest accomplishment is the Tornillo Bridge, but his quote about purchasing land in the area is going to come back to haunt him. #3, his base of support was in Socorro, but his dad was recently recalled and his cousin, who took over for Willie Sr after the recall is also under some heat right now.
And probably most importantly, Willie Sr's case my go to trial between now and the March primary election. The last thing Willie Gandara needs is his dad's trial in the news while he's trying to win re-election.
Personally I am surprised by the move. Its one thing to bow out gracefully and not seek re-election. It would give him a chance to put his dad's case behind him and live to fight another day. But its a whole other story if you run and lose. And Gandara is very vulnerable in this race.
Vincent Perez, the other Chente in the race (its on the license plates of his truck), is a product of the valley, is a Bel Air alum and a Georgetown graduate. Many who have heard him speak on a variety of issues for the Congressman consider him to be El Paso's own Julian Castro - the young, educated, and articulate Mayor of San Antonio. Perez has been one of the Congressman's most effective advocates, articulating the Congressman's stance and his achievements on a variety of issues.
From the people I've talked to, there is a lot of support, buzz, and excitement in political circles about Perez launching his own political career.
The Gandara's have been tagged the Kennedy's of the Lower Valley, which I have said before is laughable. Perez on the other hand will likely live up to being the Castro of the Lower Valley. He's a smart, articulate, knows the issues, and grew up in a typical family from the Valley. Perez is a contrast to some of the other young El Paso politicos like Beto O'Rourke, Joe Moody, and even Gandara, who come from families with political legacies or wealth. Perez has humble roots with an impressive resume. He will undoubtedly be viewed as a refreshing face and personality in El Paso politics.
If Perez enters the race, the last thing Quintanilla, Gandara or what's-his-name Loya want to do is get on a stage with Perez and have to debate him. He's gone toe-to-toe with much stronger competition and will run circles around them.