Preview: Race for El Paso County Judge

Posted by Roberto Cline on March 7, 2018

County Judge Candidates: John Cook (left) Laura Enriquez (middle) and Ricardo Samaniego (right)

EL PASO, Texas – The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the County Judge race will run unopposed in November since no Republican candidates entered the race.

The democrats include former El Paso Mayor John Cook, attorney Laura Enriquez and entrepreneur Ricardo Samaniego.

Cook was first elected as a city representative for Northeast El Paso in 1999. He later served as mayor of El Paso from 2005 to 2013. In 2014, Cook ran for Texas Land Commissioner but lost against Republican George P. Bush.

Enriquez’s website states she has been practicing law since 1996 and has been named "Texas Super Lawyer" by Texas Monthly for the past five years. "She has been named outstanding lawyer by both the El Paso and Mexican American Bar Associations. She is the Past President of both the El Paso and Mexican American Bar Associations. She is the only female to ever be President of the El Paso Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the most prestigious group of civil trial lawyers in El Paso," Enriquez’s website states.

If elected county judge, Enriquez has promised to reduce taxes and provide more help for rural and unincorporated communities in the county. Enriquez would "concentrate on building and improving parks, such as sports parks for children, and other facilities that contribute to quality of life," her Facebook page states.

Samaniego has a vast amount of experience in the public and private sectors, according to his website. Samaniego has served as interim Director for the El Paso County Housing Authority and interim Human Resources Director for the Rio Grande Workforce Solutions, where he was tasked with conducting an "extensive organizational assessment and implement changes."

Samaniego "has successfully overcome challenges as owner and operator of two Sport Clips franchises, with one of his stores in the top 5% out of 1700 U.S. and Canadian Sport Clips stores. He was picked as one of only two Team Leaders to have a Sport Clips inside a Super Wal-Mart," his website further states.

All three candidates two of the most pressing issues affecting the County are the state of the county jail – which has been described as old, inefficient and expensive – and flooding in unincorporated areas outside municipalities.

When it comes to government debt, Cook said it takes skill and experience to know when it’s necessary to issue a bond. Enriquez believes debt should only be taken on as an emergency measure, and Samaniego said he would try to increase revenue in other forms before issuing bonds.

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