Cormell out-raises District 8 city rep candidates


Elida S. Perez , El Paso Times
12:16 p.m. MT May 19, 2017

Businessman Robert Cormell received the most political contributions among those running to take over city Rep. Cortney Niland’s seat in District 8.

Cormell, 49, is the executive director of The Wayside Teen Center, a nonprofit Christian organization for youth registered as Wayside Cafe Ministries. Cormell received $13,850 in political contributions, spending only $598, according to the latest campaign finance report. He had $6,000 left to spend with 30 days remaining before the election.

His biggest donors were Clay Lowenfield, majority owner and president of the Casa dealership group, who gave $3,000; and Gerald Rubin, Helen of Troy founder and CEO of River Oaks Properties, who donated $2,500. Cormell also loaned himself $1,000.

Cormell, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013, said he also owns and operates property rentals. He is the former owner of The Bagel Shops in El Paso.

He’s among five candidates vying to represent the district that covers South West El Paso, including parts of the Upper Valley, Downtown and Segundo Barrio.

Niland resigned in April after six years in office citing family-related problems. Niland will remain in office until her replacement is elected. The candidate voted into office will serve the remainder of the term through January 2019.

More: Candidates file for Niland’s seat | Niland resigns from council, cites family’s needs

Retired educator Cecilia “Cissy” Lizarraga, 61, received $4,323 and spent $2,926. Lizarraga also loaned herself $20,000. Among her biggest donations were three $1,000 contributions from attorneys Francisco Macias and Luis Yanez. Local attorney and Downtown hotel developer James Scherr donated $500.

Gilbert Guillen, 55, a retired businessman and activist of the Duranguito neighborhood in Union Plaza, raised $200 and gave himself a $500 loan. He reported not spending any money on his campaign between April 21 and May 1. He filed his report May 16, but only reported contributions and spending trough May 1.

Attorney Adolfo Lopez, 37, spent $250 on his bid for the seat. He reported receiving no political contributions. Lopez lost against State Rep. Lina Ortega for the State District 77 seat last year.

Trinidad Acevedo, 48, reported receiving no political contributions and paid the $250 filing fee from personal funds, according to his report. Acevedo is a health unit coordinator in the mother-baby unit at University Medical Center of El Paso.

Early voting begins May 30 and ends June 6. The special election is June 10.

Learn moreEl Paso Times Voter Guide

Aside from the special election to fill the unexpired term, several run-off elections are on the June 10 ballot, including the mayoral race between businessmen Dee Margo and David Saucedo.

Related: Margo and Saucedo head to runoff for mayoral seat

Candidates for City Council Districts 2, 3 and 4 will also be in the runoff.

In District 2, incumbent Jim Tolbert will face Alexsandra Rose Annello to represent Central El Paso and a portion of the Northeast.

In the District 4 runoff to represent Northeast, businessman Sam Morgan, who narrowly lost to outgoing incumbent city Rep. Carl Robinson in 2013, will face political heavyweight Shane Haggerty, a retired fireman and former president of the Ysleta Independent School District board of trustees.

District 3 candidates and political newcomers Cassandra Hernandez-Brown and Jaime Barceleau are in a runoff to represent the East-Central region of the city. That seat is currently held by city Rep. Emma Acosta, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor.

The runoff comes after one of the lowest voter turnouts ever for an El Paso mayoral election. Only 8.3 percent of registered voters, or 34,877 people, cast ballots on May 6.

Elida S. Perez may be reached at 546-6137; eperez@elpasotimes.com; @ElidaSPerezEPT on Twitter.

District 8 Candidate Forum

What: Candidate forum hosted by the Central Business Association

When: Noon May 31

Where: Hotel El Paso Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 101 S. El Paso St.

Cost: $20 members, $25 nonmembers; price includes lunch and parking

Information:  235-2022 or email administrator@elpasocba.com

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