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Early voting for El Paso City Council District 6 begins Wednesday [El Paso Times, Texas :: ]
[June 29, 2014]

Early voting for El Paso City Council District 6 begins Wednesday [El Paso Times, Texas :: ]

(El Paso Times (TX) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 29--The four candidates competing for the District 6 seat on City Council are hitting the streets trying to lure voters to the polls starting Wednesday.

Michael Armstrong, Dick Bowen, Claudia Ordaz and Alex Zuniga are running to replace city Rep. Eddie Holguin, who essentially resigned when he filed to run for county judge in March. Holguin lost that bid, but will remain on the council until his replacement is sworn in.

Early voting for the special July 19 election begins Wednesday through July 15.

Armstrong, the owner of the now-closed Three Legged Monkey bar, said he sees himself as the "pro-small business candidate" who will work to align and improve permitting and enforcement to promote and not restrict local and small businesses.

Armstrong owes more than $267,000 in federal taxes and recently filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the city claiming breach of contract and other allegations. The 44-year-old Armstrong has blamed the city for his mounting debt and said his business was unfairly targeted and harassed and eventually forced to close. Records obtained by the El Paso Times show his federal tax liens date back to before he opened the once popular bar in 2003.

Ordaz, a communications specialist who has worked with state and federal elected officials, said she wants to help bring better-paying jobs to the city, improve streets and transit, and increase tourism across El Paso. She said she wants to partner with other area entities to increase services while saving tax dollars. Ordaz, 28, out raised her opponents in the first campaign finance reporting period last week, reporting having raised nearly $10,000.

A longtime businessman and mortgage broker, Bowen said he'd like to focus on local issues after running unsuccessfully for several state seats. The 79-year-old Bowen said he wants to focus on parks, streets, biking and hiking trails and the preservation of historic sites. He would like to see long-term planning for a light rail system connecting El Paso, West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Juárez into Northern Mexico.

Zuniga, 42, said he wants to review all the options possible for funding before imposing more taxes on the community. A certified teacher and works as an account specialist and trainer with various cell phone companies, Zuniga said he wants to focus on public safety, schools and education, and family recreation projects.

District 6 stretches north and south of Interstate 10, from about Zaragoza Drive east to the city limits and from Pebble Hills Boulevard south to the César Chávez Border Highway. Some pockets of neighborhoods west of Zaragoza zigzag into the district, including on the East Side around Lake Omega Drive, Lee Boulevard and Dale Douglas; and in the Lower Valley south of Roseway Drive around Smith, Davenport and Prado Streets.

More than 42,000 people are registered to vote in the district. Only about 5 percent of registered voters in the district -- or about 2,080 people -- cast ballots when Holguin was re-elected into office in May 2011.

The winner of the race will hold office through May 2015 when the next general city election will be held for Districts 1, 5, 6 and 7. Those are now represented, respectively, by Ann Morgan Lilly on the West Side, Michiel Noe on the East Side, Holguin, and Cortney Niland in the South-West Side.

Cindy Ramirez may be reached at 546-6151.

District 6 Early Voting *Early voting is Wednesday and Thursday; closed Friday, July 4, through Sunday, July 6; and reopens July 7 to July 15.

*Hours: Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (unless otherwise noted); noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 6, and Sunday, July 13; and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 14 and 15.

*Locations: El Paso County Courthouse, 500 E. San Antonio Ave. (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.); Marty Robbins Recreation Center, 11600 Vista del Sol Dr.; Pavo Real Recreation Center, 9301 Alameda Ave.; and Zaraplex Center, 1700 Zaragoza Road.

*Election Day is Saturday, July 19.

*To check if you live in District 6: *Information: County Elections Office: About the candidates: James Michael Armstrong Age: 44.

Education: Attended University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Experience: Longtime business owner.

Top three policy or project priorities for the city: End city's lawsuit against the attorney general regarding the release of emails from officials' private devices; ensure all the pending and upcoming projects in District 6 are completed; meet with police chief and financial department to expand police force.

Richard "Dick" Bowen Age: 79.

Education: Master's degree in international management and marketing, University of Texas at Dallas.

Experience: Owner of overhead cranes business; realtor; managing broker of C.I.A. Real Estate Services.

Prior political experience: Candidate for state senate in 2006, 2010; served on Public Service Board advisory committee; county parks board; community relations committee for U.S. Border Patrol.

Top three policy or project priorities for the city: Raise the homestead exemption for seniors to $150,000; form new commission to study and recommend changes to ordinance on historic designations; create new neighborhood associations to compete for available bond money.

Claudia Ordaz Age: 28.

Education: Bachelor's in political science, University of Texas at El Paso; Bill Archer Fellowship, University of Texas Systems, Washington D.C.

Experience: Public information coordinator, El Paso Water Utilities; previously served as marketing coordinator for El Paso Museum of History; communications director with former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh; press secretary for former U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes.

Top three policy or project priorities for the city: A regional transit system that connects to the county through a partnership; public-private partnership initiatives and tax incentives to promote tourism and small business growth; promote investments to spur job growth and improve median income by reserving incentives to industries that offer good-paying careers and not low-paying jobs.

Alex Zuniga Age: 42.

Education: Master's in business administration, University of Phoenix; bachelor's in business administration, University of Texas at El Paso; teacher certification in Texas.

Experience: Communications consultant who works in sales, training and information technology with various cell phone companies; worked in family's retail store.

Top three policy or project priorities for the city: Public safety; schools and education; family recreation projects.

___ (c)2014 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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