City Rep. Steve Ortega starts run for mayor

EL PASO, Texas - (Nov. 2012 story)

City Rep. Steve Ortega is running for mayor of El Paso.

The announcement did not come in a news release or at a news conference but through the launching of a social media page. One by one people on Facebook started "liking" his page. The campaign launch is similar to how Beto O'Rourke, Ortega's friend, launched his own campaign for Congress.

In addition to a Facebook page Ortega's campaign has also launched a website - It appeared the Facebook page and the website were made public on Wednesday.

Ortega has been the Eastridge-Mid-Valley city representative since he was elected in June 2005.

In June, Ortega voted in favor of building a baseball stadium in Downtown El Paso at the site of City Hall. He was not present for a new vote on the matter in September because he was on his honeymoon.

Last year El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values filed paperwork to recall Ortega, City Rep. Susie Byrd and Mayor John Cook because they voted to continue providing health insurance for gay and unmarried partners of city employees, overturning a voter-approved initiative aimed at taking those insurance benefits away.

The way City attorneys interpreted the voter-approved initiative, more than 100 unintended people would also lose their health insurance if the ordinance would have taken effect. The ordinance was written by El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, the same group trying to recall the mayor.

The group wrote the ordinance without the help of an attorney after El Paso City Council extended health benefits to 19 city domestic partners. Ordinance supporters said they did not want their tax dollars funding the health benefits of unmarried couples and people in homosexual relationships, which some believe are an abomination to God.

The recall election had been set for mid-April until the Eighth Court of Appeals ruling on Feb. 20. The Eighth Court of Appeals, made up of Chief Justice Ann Crawford McClure, Justice Guadalupe Rivera, and Justice Chris Antcliff, ruled unanimously that petitioners broke the Texas Election Code by not re-purposing their political action committee - El Pasoans For Traditional Family Values - for the recall efforts.

Originally, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values was classified as a PAC for the 2010 ballot initiative meant to take away the health insurance of gay and unwed partners of city employees, not as a recall group.

Editor's Note: The Ortega campaign announced late Monday that it would have a formal announcement Wednesday to announce the mayoral run.

Ortega's bio from City of El Paso website:

Representative Ortega is a proud 5th generation El Pasoan and lifelong resident of District 7. His love for his community brought him back to El Paso after completing his education. Ortega graduated from the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. After graduation, he returned to El Paso where he worked as a high school counselor for low-income students seeking to attend college. He then returned to school and received his Juris Doctor Degree from The George Washington University Law Center in Washington, D.C. Ortega is currently in private practice. He has mentored with Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso and enjoys being a volunteer coach for youth basketball teams at East Valley YMCA.

Representative Ortega's drew a four year term and will focus his efforts on promoting economic development, sound fiscal management, and ethical government.

Steve is the son of local educators Roberto and Sylvia Ortega. He has one younger sister Michelle, who is a juvenile counselor.

(Nov. 2012 story)

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