Politics

El Paso City Council says Hernandez resigned her seat, special election to be set at next meeting

Hernandez resignation

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso City Council representatives determined Monday that District 3 Rep. Cassandra Hernandez did resign her seat as a result of a post to her Facebook page about a mayoral bid.

Council voted 5-3 to postpone setting a special election date to fill the vacancy until its Sept. 3 regular meeting.

The decision came after Mayor Dee Margo, who was absent Monday, called a special council meeting to discuss the vacancy. After hearing from the city's legal counsel, council representatives agreed with the mayor's determination that Hernandez had resigned.

A Facebook post last week, that has since been deleted, appeared to launch her mayoral campaign. But Hernandez told fellow members of council that the post was inadvertently made by a volunteer on her staff -- and she maintained she never authorized it.

Hernandez had previously acknowledged to ABC-7 that she has considered running for mayor, but had not made a decision to announce her candidacy.

The Texas Constitution says certain public officials can trigger an automatic resignation if they announce they are running for another office. City lawyers indicated to council that the Facebook post constituted an announcement and triggered the "resign to run" provision.

"Prior legal interpretations by the courts and the Texas Attorney General make it clear that once it is “made known publicly by a written or oral statement,” the resignation has occurred. If “a reasonable person may conclude from what is made public that the individual intends, without qualification, to run for office,” this provision is triggered. There is no exception for a mistaken announcement," said a statement released by city officials following the meeting.

Hernandez and her attorney declined interviews after the council decision, although some observers expect a court challenge.

Margo, who put into motion the action to oust his potential opponent from council, has already said he is running for re-election as mayor.


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