EL PASO — As buildings go, City Hall is not old. It went up in the 1970s and still serves its function. But, the building and other surrounding properties would have to be demolished before the construction of a new baseball stadium.
A "Save City Hall" petition, received and certified by the clerk with plenty of signatures to spare, was presented to El Paso City council Tuesday. Representative Eddie Holguin moved that council commit to place it in voters' hands next May. At that time, voters would be asked the question on the petition, "Shall the city of El Paso repeal decision to demolish City Hall?"
When Holguin received pushback from Mayor John Cook and other city reps, the speakers in line were not pleased.
Salvador Gomez, who initiated a lawsuit against the city, referred to the mayor and council reps as "Communists" as he began to speak. "The fact that the petitions were certified makes it a right for we the people to go to the polls and make a decision, yes or no, on the demolition of city council's resolution to demolish it -very simple," Gomez said.
Othon Medina Jr., added, "It will remain forever a big stain in this city and for others, especially people that want to develop good business relations here in the city to them to know that we have a divided government and divided population."
Holguins's motion fell by a 5-3 vote. Council decided for now it will not place the petition language on a May ballot, that it needs more time to make sure the language is correct and legal. The petition question could end up on a ballot but there was no commitment at all today.
Holguin said, "I think the citizens always have a right to petition the government. It's unfortunate that this city council continues to ignore petition after petition, whether it's on this issue or other issues. This council has a history of ignoring petitions and ignoring the will of the citizens, unless it suits them."