News Column

El Paso Mayoral Campaign Focuses on Economy

Feb. 21, 2013

Cindy Ramirez, El Paso Times, Texas

Gus Haddad said his business experience and many years of serving on city committees, including chairing the previous Bond Overview Advisory Committee, makes him the most qualified candidate for mayor.

Haddad, a longtime mortgage broker, formally announced his candidacy for office on Wednesday at the International Bakery on North Mesa Street.

"I believe I have the character and leadership abilities to move El Paso forward," said the 61-year-old Haddad, president of the Haddad Mortgage Group.

Haddad is one of five people who have filed to run for mayor in the May 11 election. The others are substitute teacher Jorge Artalejo, businessman Robert D. Cormell, former radio talk show host Hector H. Lopez and city Rep. Steve Ortega.

The filing period for the May election ends March 1.

Haddad was chairman of the Bond Overview Advisory Committee after the 2000 voter-approved bond issue during 2000-08, was chairman of the City Plan Commission during 2004-08, and was on the El Paso Parks and Recreation Foundation board of directors for seven years. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Haddad said that if elected, his priority will be improving economic development to bring more jobs to the region. He said he would work to expand small businesses, bring new industries to El Paso and create jobs, particularly for people with academic degrees.

"Let's develop big ideas on economic development and

keep our kids here," he said, referring to those who graduate from the region's colleges and universities.

Haddad said he supports the creation of the Borderplex Binational Economic Alliance, the result of a recent merger between the Paso del Norte Group and the Regional Economic Development Corp.

The two private economic development groups merged after a city-commissioned study released in 2011 found that El Paso's economic development strategy was ineffective and needed to be overhauled.

"Let's give them a chance to exist, but certainly the city needs to be integral in that process," Haddad said. "The city has to sit at the head of the table. That's where the direction should come."

As the chairman overseeing the $141 million quality-of-life bond issue approved by voters in 2000, Haddad said he knows how to ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget.

As mayor, he said, he would ensure that taxpayers get what they're paying for.

When it comes to the planned Downtown ballpark, Haddad said, "I feel that if the ballpark comes through, then we need to make it the best venue possible."

Haddad had some reservations about the $180 million multipurpose arena that voters approved under the $473 million bond issue in November.

"I would like to see the economic or feasibility study that said we need an arena," Haddad said. "Voters voted for it, so we should do it. But let's do it right and for the right price."

Haddad also cited being transparent, responsible and independent as his key characteristics. He added that he is a leader who is and will not be controlled by any special interest groups.

Haddad ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2009, when nearly a dozen candidates ran against incumbent John Cook.



Source: (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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