Eagle Pass Mayor Ramsey English Cantu has been declared ineligible to run for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, but that declaration has raised questions about another candidate’s eligibility.
On Tuesday, Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, sent a letter via email to Cantu, who has filed an application for a place on the ballot for the March 2020 Democratic Party Primary Election. Cantu is seeking the State Representative, District 74, seat being vacated by fellow Eagle Pass resident Poncho Nevarez.
In his letter, Hinojosa explained that another candidate for the District 74 seat, Eagle Pass attorney Eddie Morales, had provided him with two public records concerning Cantu’s candidacy.
Those records are a certificate of election showing Cantu was elected mayor of Eagle Pass in May 2017, and the second record is a copy of the Eagle Pass City Charter, showing Cantu’s term on the Eagle Pass City Council is four years long and that he is paid $10 per month.
“Based on these records, Mr. Morales requests that I declare you ineligible pursuant to the Texas Election Code 145.003,” Hinojosa wrote.
Hinojosa also noted Article 3, Section 19, of the Texas Constitution provides that “no judge of any court, Secretary of State, Attorney General, clerk of any court of record or any person holding a lucrative office under the United States, or this State, or any foreign government shall during the term for which he is elected or appointed, be eligible to the Legislature.”
Hinojosa also noted the Texas Supreme Court has held the pay Cantu receives for his position as mayor “make the city council office ‘lucrative’ under the” Texas Constitution.
Additionally, “according to the public records provided to me, your term of office for Mayor will overlap with the term of office for the Legislative position you have applied to be elected to,” Hinojosa wrote.
“In this case, the public records provided to me, along with legal provisions laid out above, obligate me to administratively declare you ineligible and I hereby do so,” Hinojosa wrote.
Hinojosa’s office staff told the Del Rio News-Herald Wednesday “Cantu’s name will stay on (the Secretary of State web site). However, his status now shows ‘declared ineligible.’”
Attempts to contact Cantu and Morales for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Contacted by email Wednesday, Hinojosa wrote he had no comment other than the information in the letter, which he attached.
The situation raises questions about the candidacy of Del Rio City Councilman Rowland Garza, who has filed for the same District 74 seat as Cantu and Morales.
Garza, too, is a sitting council member: He was last elected to the Del Rio City Council in May 2016.
However, Garza’s term on the council would be over in May 2020, and his council term would not overlap the term of office for the District 74 representative seat, which would begin in January 2021.
Garza, too, is compensated for his service on the council.
According to the Del Rio Code of Ordinances, the mayor and council members each receive $100 for attending each regular meeting of the council.
Hinojosa, asked by email about Garza’s situation, said, “I have not received a complaint on Rowland Garza so I have no comment on his eligibility.”
An attempt to contact Garza for comment Wednesday was unsuccessful.