Yesterday's legislative forum drew about 120 people to listen to the members of the El Paso legislative delegation go over issues from the last session. It was a great idea and a wonderful opportunity to people to see the members of the delegation side-by-side.
The first thing I noticed was that nearly every member of the delegation spoke about who well they all got along and several mentioned how refreshing it was to have a delegation that didn't have "distractions and in-fighting". Three guesses about who they were talking about...
All the members of the delegation were present with the exception of State Rep Joe Pickett, who was in another state receiving an award.
The members of the delegation that stood out the most were Representatives Marquez, Gonzalez, and Margo. Margo stood out because he was the lone Republican and a lot of the questions were aimed at him. He stood his ground and you have to give him credit for going to a forum that he knew he was going to receive a lot of heat from angry consistuents.
This was really the first time that I had a chance to see Reps Marquez and Gonzalez side-by-side with the rest of the delegation. Rep Gonzalez seemed to be very sharp on the issues and seasoned in terms of the legislative process. She apparently is a quick study and spoke about technical aspects of this last session that wonks like me found very informative.
I thought overall it was Rep Marquez that did the best. She didn't speak as often as the rest of the delegation, but when she did she was concise and to the point. She spoke directly and plainly about how some of the votes taken in the last session were damaging to El Pasoans. She did a masterful job taking apart the Governor's emergency agenda and showing how everyday El Pasoans were affected by the legislative session.
Senator Rodriquez showed he was the leader of the delegation and explained the way things went down in the Senate. Rodriquez and Quintanilla sparred a bit with Representative Margo over analysis of various legislative issues, but overall the event was cordial and no one had torches or pitchforks for Rep Margo.
Margo spent a lot of the time defending his votes on the budget and on the sanctuary cities bill.
Rep Quintanilla did a fair job, but I kept being distracted a bit by a comparison of what he said versus how he voted. Rep Quintanilla characterized the super-majority as "extreme" and "conservatives" and took them on for their agenda, particularly as it relates to education. He made a strong argument I thought.
But I can't get passed the fact that he was sitting next to Rep Marquez as she was talking about the sonogram bill being an assault on women by the Republicans. Rep Quintanilla voted in favor of the sonogram bill. I can't think of a more conservative bill from this session than that bill and I can't think of anything more extreme than big government literally forcing a woman's vagina to be penetrated by a probe for the sonogram.
Questions were taken from the audience by submission of a 3x5 card. One of the questions I submitted was asked, though it was the softest question I submitted. The question I asked was if in hindsight, if any of the members of the delegation would change their vote on anything.
Now the reason I asked was because I wanted to see who was introspective and who, given the benefit of time and information, would have seen an issue differently. I wanted to see if Margo would've reconsidered his vote on the budget or the education cuts, and if Quintanilla would've reconsidered the sonogram vote.
I have plenty of video, but it takes time to chop it up into bite-sized morsels and publish it. I will post it soon.