Politics

Escobar can remain in office despite run for Congress

County judge has 'some news to share' Saturday

EL PASO - The office of El Paso County Judge could have a new face as early this month or as late as the end of next year.

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar has said in the past she's considering a run for Congress, and it is widely anticipated she will make that announcement on Saturday.

"What I can tell you about Saturday is that you should be there," Escobar told ABC-7 on Tuesday about an event she scheduled titled, "I Have Some News I Would Like to Share With You!" The secret event is scheduled from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at the Centre Building, 123 W. Mills Ave. in Downtown El Paso.
 
If Escobar indeed announces a run for Congress, there are several scenarios that can play out. First, an announcement Saturday means an automatic resignation as county judge. If she were to announce after Dec. 1, she can keep her post.

Escobar's term expires in December of 2018, and she has already notified the county commissioners court she will not seek reelection.

However, if she resigns this weekend she can still remain in office.
  
"There's a holdover provision in Texas law, which means she holds over in her position until she is replaced by the commissioner's court," County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said. "So she could stay in office until the end of her term, which would be December of 2018, if the court chooses to not replace her. Or, she could be replaced as soon as there is an agenda item and a vote of three commissioners."

Escobar can submit resignation letter or make a public announcement. If she announces publicly that she's is running for another office, she automatically resigns. In the meantime, Bernal said, Escobar will be able vote on agenda items, including her own replacement. 

County Commissioner David Stout said the court will likely replace Escobar. He told ABC-7 he thinks an interim county judge should be someone who will not run for the seat in 2018, and he wants the next county judge to be someone who has plenty of public service experience.

"I think we have a good commissioners court," Stout said. "(A) very deliberative, very thoughtful commissioners court that will put someone in that position that can help our progress and understands the progress that we've been making over the past few years."

Former EPISD Board President Dori Fenenbock is also expected to announce a run for Congress. According to the Federal Election Commission, the Dori for Congress Exploratory Committee has $328,746.43, cash on hand.

Escobar has a political action committee urging her to run.

The two would be vying to replace U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), who announced he's running for the U.S. Senate. O'Rourke is challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.


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