The El Paso Tribune - El Paso Texas Political Commentary
An Introduction: Roy Gray for City Council
March 23, 2005 - Roy Gray
My name is Roy Gray and I am running for the position as El Paso City Council Representative for District 1. I am running because I firmly believe the incumbent, Susan Austin, is ineffective and out of touch with the constituents of District 1 and I can do a better job of representing the fine citizens on the West Side.

My campaign platform centers on the fair taxation of property, homeowner property value and property rights. The property tax system in El Paso is too skewed against the individual homeowner and that is wrong. I am against building in the arroyos and committed to finding a solution that would be fair to the property owner and the affected homeowners. I am against allowing Asarco to resume smokestack operations and will vote no whenever that issue comes before me. I am for growth, but the existing homeowners must be protected from losing their property value and I believe a solution can be arrived at that will benefit all the stakeholders. In a nutshell, I am for common sense government. I will be ever vigilant to identify and prevent actions that will harm the quality of life we enjoy in District 1 and ever mindful to take advantage of opportunities that will enhance our quality of life.

To this end, I am convinced our current representative is failing us as constituents. I also believe the incumbent is a good person with a good heart and a keen mind; after all she is an ex-lawyer.  She should be applauded for giving of herself to her community. I was motivated to run to unseat the incumbent because I disagree with her positions regarding various important issues that greatly affect District 1. Mrs. Austin is content to not communicate with her constituents on these important issues, which have resulted in her casting votes that are counterproductive to having District 1 move forward.

As a retired United States Marine Corps Colonel with 33 years of service, I have learned and applied leadership principles that will serve the District 1 constituents very well. I hold a Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Political Science from the University of North Carolina and a Masters Degree from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. My history of career assignments has been varied and challenging, working my way up the enlisted ranks to full bird Colonel. My service spans from being a basic combat infantry Marine to Chief of Staff for Marine Corps Bases in Japan to my position at my retirement as Director of Strategic Transportation and Logistics at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington D.C. Currently, I am the Senior Naval Science Instructor at the San Elizario High School Navy Junior ROTC program and will leave that post this coming May.

I am confident with my education and extensive experience I will be an effective advocate for the constituents of District 1. You should expect and receive nothing less. Unfortunately our current Representative has a record of inconsistencies, mistakes, non-communication, and fiscal mismanagement. Should I be elected, I will be an effective Representative and a laser beam focused Marine on the issues that come before City Council. That will be a welcomed change from what we Westsiders presently have.

Talk is cheap and unfortunately campaign rhetoric seems to be replete with accusations and charges that candidates canít or wonít back up. Let me be clear, I am not insinuating that my opponent is dishonest or unethical. I am simply saying she does not take to heart the concerns of her constituents and has been an ineffective representative that has prevented District 1 from progressing.

I judge people not by what they say but what they do. The City Council is charged with making policy. Policy is not made with speeches but with votes and budgets. In the case of Mrs. Austin I have looked at her voting record and her administering of a $10,000,000 portion of the 2004 bond issue that each district had available to spend as the representative saw fit.

Mrs. Austinís voting record is surely something we should all review. I certainly reviewed it. Allow me to just give you a few examples. Within a week of taking office she voted against restricting campaign contributions to sitting members of the City Council Architectural and Engineering Committee by those who come before the committee seeking approval of pending contracts. Is it by coincidence that Mrs. Austinís campaign finance report shows that 25% of her substantial campaign coffers come from developers, builders, contractors, and suppliers?

Mrs. Austin cast votes that defy logic. She has initiated motions then turned around and voted against her own motions. She has made motions that were not applicable to the issue being voted on. In the case of the replacing the board members of the disastrous El Paso Housing Finance Corporation appointed by the Caballero administration, Mrs. Austin voted to not remove former Mayor Caballeroís law partner rather than have the President of the El Paso Realtor Association take that position.

Enough you say, regrettably there is much more. You have heard of the preverbal Flip-Flop. Well Mrs. Austin has gone one further with a Flip-Flop-Flip-Flop with her numerous countermanding votes on the issue of regulating the Sexually Oriented Businesses. However, Mrs. Austin regained her focus just two weeks before Christmas when she had little difficulty voting against allowing a church to be built on less than three acres of land.

You may remember the issue of the Suncrest Townhome Project and the battle royal that occurred between the developer, the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP), and District 8 Representative who was fighting for his constituents that did not want another low income housing community built in an area inundated by many other low income housing communities. Most vocal against the project was EPISD and the staff and parents of Morehead Middle School, Mrs. Austinís constituents. This school was busting at the seams with students and just did not have any more capacity but regardless Mrs. Austin again voted with the developers and against the wishes of her constituents.

Speaking of HACEP, Mrs. Austin has the dubious distinction of casting the lone vote against having the city continue with the case of HACEP vs. City of El Paso to the appellate level in our city governmentís attempt to seat extra board members in order to investigate an organization that was then a rogue agency wasting taxpayer money by the bucket load and then thumb their nose at their oversight authority, The City of El Paso.

During the conduct of my campaign trail, I'd like everyone to know that I have come to a consensus that folks are just dissatisfied with the incumbent's past performance of being indecisive and non-constituent friendly.  I have spoken to Neighborhood Association members and developers that have urged me on as a candidate. The  majority of these folks are troubled that they have been left out of the political process.  Emails have poured in via my Website that discuss the current lack of any forum to participate in.  Several developers want someone reliable and an individual that isn't going to allow the rules to be changed after they have made significant investments.  They provide great jobs, incomes, taxes, money for food and shelter for thousands of our local people.  They truly have a vested interest in enjoying a good reputation in our community because their family names and livelihood depend on creating Quality of Life. But they also know that my position on Quality of Life is about harmony in the development of  communities.  Balance is critical to maintaining Quality of Life, property values, and property rights.  None of the developers have disagreed on these issues.

Our incumbent had the opportunity to vote for increasing the bridge crossing fees from Juarez but she was the lone vote against creating an additional funding stream to help balance the Cityís budget to avoid a tax increase. However, when she was willing to give financial relief to those who, by and large, do not pay into El Pasoís tax base she was just as unwilling to give that same financial relief to those elderly and disabled who have paid into the tax base for years by voting against a property tax freeze for her most vulnerable constituents.

In terms of financial acumen, Mrs. Austinís record is just as dismal. As she stated in a recent El Paso Times article concerning the $256,000 in funds to renovate the City Managerís office, it was just ďnickels and dimesĒ. Perhaps this attitude was also prevalent in the administration of the $10,000,000 in bond money to be used for future district projects. As a point of fact, the Capital Improvement Program FY04 Bond Project Status on Construction Activities in District dated March 14, 2005 shows the money was used to benefit only one neighborhood area south of I-10 to the detriment of all of the other neighborhoods in District 1. In fact over $6.16 million was to a single project. Is it a coincidence again that these projects benefiting from the $10,000,000 bond issue is connected with major thoroughfare plans to new developments in the Upper Valley?

In the case of the improvements of Upper Valley Road there is much confusion that is a result of the poor communication philosophy of the incumbent. Questions are surfacing as to if the right of way acquisitions for Upper Valley Road were even included in the $3.58 million to widen Upper Valley Road, which if not, would render that project and the bond money in jeopardy. Incidentally, again because of the lack of communication from the incumbent the residents of that area have been very vocal opponents to that project and have lost all confidence in the incumbent.

Mrs. Austinís voting patterns remind me of a pin ball game with the ball bouncing all over the place. Her pin ball unfocused approach of making decisions without consultation with her constituents and then voting by the seat of her pants is regrettable and damaging. It is not in my nature to go through life in this manner. You can take it the bank that the way I operate is to have a plan and a back-up plan. I will do my homework and solicit the best and brightest I can find to educate me on the areas I need and offer opinions and ideas on the issues of the day. My votes will be carefully considered and vetted with my constituents through a variety of communication methods.

Had I been your representative during this time my voting record would be consistent and focused on the priorities that the District 1 constituents communicate to me. Unlike my opponent, I will hold weekly informational meetings to inform, discuss, and receive loud and clear your ideas and desires. I will return phone calls and emails that you send to me advising me of a problem or a solution. It is only common courtesy to return correspondence and my training as a Marine Corps Colonel will not fail me in that area.

Mrs. Austinís voting record will be made available for you to review on my website, and you can judge for yourself as the campaign progresses. I am taking a risk of being over aggressive in my comments above concerning Mrs. Austin, but I have enough faith in the sophisticated District 1 voter to know the difference between personal attacks and the revealing of an awful voting record. I hold Mrs. Austin in the highest regard as a person but I am truly disappointed in my current District 1 Representativeís effectiveness to do the job of representing this district at City Council.

I shall end this lengthy introduction letter by asking that you visit my website, to learn more about me and my ideas for moving District 1 forward. I ask that you listen to the KROD radio program on April 19th between 7:00 to 8:00 A.M. to hear me speak of my ideas and I will be most happy to answer your questions. I will be proud to answer any correspondence you send me via my website or talk to you on the telephone. Both the email, phone number, and my address are listed on my website.

I look forward to meeting you on the campaign trail at the various forums or perhaps at your door when I come a knocking. So until then I ask that you stay tuned to further correspondence from me that is so relevant to District 1 issues. Please remember to vote in the early polling commencing April 20th or certainly on Election Day, May 7th. I will be so proud to represent you in the City Council as District 1 Representative.

Click here for more details online
Printer Friendly version of this article
Enter the recipient's e-mail address below:

Return to the Top of the PageGo to the Front PageLegal Statements
© copyright 2002, 2005 by the El Paso Tribune all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the copyright holder.
The El Paso Tribune, your source for commentary on the issues...