This is Andres Carrillo, writing to you as the new editor of the Tejano Tribune.
For the next semester, I will be writing a series of editorials where you as readers will gain insight into the way I perceive the world we live in.
I am also going to work on providing readers with stories that would interest them.
Stories about things that impact EPCC students and highlight programs, people and events that would be interesting.
To start this editorial series, I want to discuss the issue of apathy in the borderland.
El Paso is one of the most important cities in the union.
It is not only one of the largest cities, population and land wise, but it’s one of the largest border communities in the world.
With the border becoming a priority issue in national politics, El Paso representatives have a major opportunity to make El Paso part of that conversation, and bring El Paso to the national discussion of other political issues.
El Paso has gained increasing notoriety in the past two years due to issues of the border, increasing fame of El Paso politicians like Beto O’Rourke, a more prominent role in Texas politics with Joe Moody, who represents House District 78, becoming Speaker Pro Tempore in the Texas House of Representatives, and sadly, due to national coverage of the Walmart shooting.
El Paso is an ever increasingly important community in the United States, but we will drop the ball.
El Paso has two major issues holding the community back: brain drain and apathy.
Let’s start with the brain drain. El Paso has produced a huge amount of intelligent, ambitious and well-rounded people with the unique experience of living in a multi-cultural community, and the majority of them seem to leave for college, and not come back, meaning all the potential El Paso works to cultivate ends up dissipating.
This unfortunate trend is the fault of the local government.
Local government has time and time again failed their constituents.
They increase property taxes until El Paso has the highest rates in Texas, making the low housing costs suddenly similar to those of other cities with higher average wages, basically killing the main incentive to move to El Paso.
The local government also kills the incentive for businesses that would attract tourism and other big businesses to El Paso to place their feet in our market.
A big complaint that many young people levy on our city is that it’s boring; that there’s nothing to do, so they end up leaving.
But when an amusement park will try and place a location in El Paso, the local government will deny them.
Local government continuously makes terrible decisions with the property tax dollars they take from hardworking people. They are a cancer.
The government can’t raise enough tax revenue from a sales tax because they don’t attract businesses, so they raise property taxes to make up for their expenses and then they use the money on expensive projects that won’t raise revenue.
For example, the street cars downtown that don’t go everywhere downtown that people don’t ride unless it’s free, and loses the local government money.
Or how about the proposed arena that would require kicking people out of their homes and destroying a historic neighborhood for a sports complex that won’t raise enough money to justify the cost of building it.
How about the time the county raised property taxes to give themselves pay raises.
Or what about the time the city raised the property tax rates disproportionate to loss of revenue from losing red light camera ticket revenue.
But the government isn’t the only one to blame. It’s the hundreds of thousands of registered voters who don’t vote in local elections and hold the politicians accountable.
By not voting, these unimpressive politicians who destroy the competitiveness of El Paso in the market, are allowed to get by and not be held accountable because only a fraction of constituents, only a fraction of the ideas out there vote.
I personally don’t care who you vote for, and I’m not suggesting you vote if you’re uninformed of a candidate’s position because that makes things worse. I
’m encouraging the student’s of EPCC who are most likely eligible to vote, to care about their community and make an effort to put people who they think will improve El Paso into positions to make change.
The brain drain is part of the apathy and El Paso finds itself in a negative feedback loop that makes El Paso more likely to fumble their opportunity to enter the national spotlight in a positive way.
Like Louis Brandeis once said, “The most important political office is that of private citizen.”