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Monday, March 18, 2013 - 11:38pm
EL PASO — State representative Mary Gonzalez laid out two bills to address annexation issues surrounding Socorro and San Elizario. Gonzalez said she hopes it can still be resolved locally, but this legislation serves as a backup.
Rep. Gonzalez is taking action to protect the people of San Elizario.
County Commissioner Vince Perez, who represents San Elizario, supports her effort.
"I think all of us here at county and at the state level are looking for any option to help the people of San Elizario," said Perez.
The first bill filed by Rep. Gonzalez would allow Texas communities like San Elizario to incorporate without first getting permission from neighboring cities, like Socorro.
The second bill would create a voting process where San Elizario residents and other communities would have to vote to approve being annexed.
"While they're neighbors, they have unique and distinct histories and I think the residents in San Eli would much rather prefer that they have the decision making authority to tax, how much to tax and what those taxes would be used for and I think they're uncomfortable with another city such as Socorro coming in telling them what's best for them," said Perez.
A plan by the City of Socorro to annex parts of El Paso County, Clint and San Elizario was on hold after El Paso County took legal action to stop it. On April 25, a judge will decide whether Socorro can implement it.
Socorro leaders said they were unaware Rep. Gonzalez was planning to file these bills.
"By changing the way all annexations are done is a pretty dramatic way to resolve a situation right now that's just in the Lower Valley," said City of Socorro Spokesperson Dave Garcia.
A group of Socorro officials testified against them on Monday and said they're hopeful the law will not change.
"We’re here to explain that this is not so much about politics than it is about protecting and taking care of our investment and our neighbors as well," said Garcia.
Rep. Gonzalez said the bills are not about the City of Socorro but the ability of San Elizario residents to determine their own future.
The House Land and Resource Committee will consider the bills. If the committee approves them, the bills will be presented to the entire Texas house.