EL PASO TX — Two Socorro City council members resigned during a special meeting Saturday.
Jesse Gandara Junior and Willie Madrid resigned their positions. This comes a week after District Attorney Jaime Esparza asked a court to question how the City of Socorro extended their terms in office. Esparza had filed a petition in state district court on Friday that may have lead to the removal of Socorro City Council.
Socorro spokesman Dave Garcia says there was good reason for the term extensions. He says in 2011 Texas adopted a bill authorizing cities to change their election day from May until Nov 1st, to accommodate soldiers returning from Afghanistan.
The bill also gave city council the chance to extend the terms of office for elected officials. But the Texas Attorney General doesn't agree and is moving forward with the DA's request to take it court. Gandara resigned to stop the process.
In his resignation statement Gandara says the following:
"In an effort to avoid protracted litigation and expense for the City of Socorro and to bring this matter to a close I am submitting my resignation and requesting the vacancy be declared and a special election be called as soon as possible for this my seat on city council," said Gandara.
Garcia gave further explanation.
“The meeting was originally designed to help fix some of the issues that have come up with the Socorro elections and Senate Bill 100 but it took a turn when two of the representatives resigned," said Garcia.
Those seats will sit vacant until an election in May.
The City of Socorro will deal with more litigationin the future. City Council decided to move forward in an investigation of former Mayor Trini Lopez, who is accused of violating a purchasing policy in Socorro.
"People who work for or hold office for the City of Socorro may not purchase surplus from the city and it kind of makes sense because we know which cars work well, we know which computers work, which printers. So we're not allowed to purchase the surplus of the city," said Garcia.