El Paso

4 of 5 candidates vying to fill vacant city council seat debate Downtown

4 of 5 District 8 candidates debate

EL PASO, Texas - The Central Business Administration held a debate featuring four of the five candidates vying to replace Cortney Niland as District 8 City representative.

Niland resigned for personal reasons and a special election is being held to fill the vacant seat.

The topics ranged from the controversial Downtown arena, which some feel should be built in District 8's Duranguito neighborhood, to the best way to work with Downtown businesses, many of which were in attendance.

District 8 candidates are just 10 days away from election day and all have their ideas on how to improve things Downtown.

"We know, those of us who are from Downtown, that 90 percent out of all of our retail sales, come directly from Ciudad Juarez," Gilbert Guillen said. "And so we need to make sure that we make that as easy as possible."

Robert Cormell added: "Every quarter meet and find out what is the City doing to help you grow your business? What is the city doing that's hindering you from growing your business."

"I would be a voice for a strong Downtown because I think Downtown is a key to our city," Cissy Lizarraga said. "It's what we identify with."

Added Adolfo Lopez: "We have to sit down at least once a month with each part of our district and talk about the issues that are facing our district."

The big topic was the arena and whether it should be built in Duranguito. While Lopez likes the Duranguito site, Guillen, who owns land Downtown, is against it. Lizarraga said she'd wait for an outcome of the current litigation and Cormell wants to work with UTEP on it.

"I do believe that there's an effect, a combined effect that will happen with the ballpark, the civic center and the arena being built right next to each other," Lopez said. "Other cities have done other things and seen positive effects."

Added Guillen: "It was the only spot I would be the first one championing it, but it's not, because we have other sectors, we have Cohen Stadium sitting there empty."

"The arena is something that is really important," Lizarraga said. "We're losing money every day that project hasn't begun. For me the arena would be the main focus."

Added Cormell: "I would love to see UTEP come in some form and join us in this venture. Look at that, see if there's something we could do together to make that happen."

The only candidate not in attendance at the debate was Trini Acevedo. ABC-7 reached out to him but he could not be contacted by deadline.

Election day for District 8 is set for June 10, the same day as the runoff elections for Mayor and three other City Council seats.

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