El Paso

Socorro City reps oust newly-elected mayor

Socorro mayor ousted

EL PASO, Texas - The Socorro City Council unanimously voted to oust mayor Gloria Rodriguez, just four months into her term.

The vote came during a special City Council meeting Thursday.   

Rodriguez told ABC-7 Tuesday she was surprised to find this item on this agenda: "Discussion and action to determine and declare that Gloria M. Rodriguez has forfeited the office of Mayor of the City of Socorro."

Rodriguez is concerned about the motives of the city representatives who want her removed from office. The item was placed on the agenda by City Rep. Yvonne Colon-Villalobos, but Rodriguez pointed to City Rep. Maria Reyes.

"I think its just a personal vendetta from Maria Reyes," Rodriguez said. "She apparently doesn't care for the city because we are going to go through this again."

City Rep. Rene Rodriguez pointed to former Mayor Jesse Gandara's attempt, along with others on the council, including then Rep. Gloria Rodriguez to extend their council terms in 2013. That lead to a criminal investigation.

"What people say is that she got money to use the attorneys for a defense back when Jesse (Gandara) was here in council," said Rodriguez. "You cannot use public funds for personal gain. What was that personal gain? Personal defense attorney. What else do you need?"

Rodriguez brought up former Socorro Mayor Jesse Gandara's attempt, along with then Rep. Gloria Rodriguez, to extend their council terms in 2013, leading to a criminal investigation. "You cannot use public funding for personal gain or for a criminal defense and that's what they did," Rodriguez said.

The former mayor has hired high profile attorney Jim Darnell.

"I think it was a railroad job plain and simple," Darnell said. "There were some people, one person in particular, Jesse Gandara, against whom allegations were being made, not against Gloria Rodriguez. There were no allegations that she had done anything wrong."

Darnell argued his client used an attorney when she was called to testify at a grand jury as a witness about procedures.  He said what she used a lawyer for, in accordance with the opinion of the city attorney and the vote of City Council at the time, was to make sure she understood what the issues were and responded appropriately. He also said the city attorney at the time determined that was legal.

"So, the idea that the mayor was charged with some sort of a crime is just simply false. She was never accused of a crime," Darnell said.

It will cost the city between $20,000 and $25,000 to hold a new election.

The former Mayor Rodriguez said the council removed her illegally and described the move as harassment.

"When I got elected, I asked the council, leave the past behind and lets move forward, this is what the people deserve," Rodriguez said.

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