County Judge Veronica Escobar to run for Congress

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar

It’s official. County Judge Veronica Escobar is running for Congress.

KFOX14 obtained Escobar’s statement of candidacy which she submitted Friday.

She will be running for U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke's seat in the Texas 16th Congressional District. O'Rourke announced his Senate candidacy in March.

Escobar will make an official announcement of her candidacy at 4 p.m. Saturday in a public gathering at Anson Mills in downtown El Paso.

She has served two terms as El Paso County judge and previously served one term as County Commissioner for Precinct 2.

During her tenure with the county, she expanded access to affordable health care for El Pasoans through her support of the El Paso County Hospital District and modernized county government through significant internal reforms to the organization, which was once plagued by corruption and self-dealing.

Before serving El Paso as an elected official, Escobar was a faculty member at the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College. She also served as executive director for community scholars, a local non-profit organization that hired high school students to do public policy research and produce reports about El Paso's challenges and opportunities. She is a third-generation El Pasoan and has dedicated more than a decade of her career to public service.

She must resign her position but will remain in office until county commissioners elect someone to replace her.

"Whenever there's a vacancy in these positions, the person who resigns is held over and then the members of the Commissioners Court as a whole vote on who is going to be the next person. They appointment (the) individual. There's no specific process as to how that takes place," county commissioner Vince Perez said.

Escobar placed an item on Monday's agenda to discuss her resignation. It will be the first time the court will have a chance to publicly discuss her potential replacements. It is the same day that the Commissioner's Court will approve a budget for the year, which is one of the reasons Escobar waited so long to announce her candidacy.

None of the commissioners themselves can fill the position without resigning and creating another hole to be filled.

Perez says he knows what he will be looking for in the person who is to fill Escobar's position.

"I think in this particular case, someone that the court is looking for is someone who has a strong record of government service, someone who is obviously committed to the organization, who will take the time necessary and someone who has a track record in the community and someone who is very well respected in the community and has a track record of trust and accountability just overall," Perez said.

Escobar will continue in that position until a replacement is found. That replacement will serve though the end of 2018. Part of their responsibilities will be helping staff and fund the medical examiner's office, county employee positions, the jail, the public defender's office, the district attorney's office and more.

"The county judge serves as the presiding officer for the County Commissioners court and runs the meetings but also has other important duties. As were seeing, right now on the coast of Texas it is county judges throughout the state that have the authority under the state constitution to declare a disaster. That's an important role," Perez said.

Perez said he is not surprised that Escobar is running. He says Monday's meeting will be an hefty one.

"Monday will be a really important meeting because it will be the first time at commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss this topic," Perez said.

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