Four months into her tenure as Socorro mayor, Gloria Rodriguez was ousted from office by the then sitting council. The March 23, 2017 vote to oust her was unanimous. The council accused Rodriguez of misusing public funds. The allegation is based on Rodriguez using public funds to pay for a criminal attorney in 2012. Gloria Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing.
According to Rodriguez, she was summoned to court, as a witness, regarding the Jesse Gandara controversy. Rodriguez was the only council member called by the prosecutors, and the only witness to testify for the prosecution. Rodriguez states that she retained an attorney, paid for by Socorro public funds, because she was acting in her official capacity. According to Rodriguez, the prosecutors told her she was called as a witness, because she “was a councilwoman” at the time of the controversy.
In August 2017, in a special election, Elia Garcia was elected as the Socorro mayor to replace Rodriguez. Border political observers have noted numerous controversies involving the Socorro over the years. Rodriguez’ ouster is one of many.
Now, Rodriguez is suing Socorro over her removal from office.
I asked Gloria Rodriguez to comment about her lawsuit and the controversy. The following is the letter she sent me via email. I have made minor edits for readability purposes.
On November of 2015 I ran for mayor for the City of Socorro, Texas with three more candidates opposing me and I, with the help of God and the people of said city, won the election with more than 2,000 voters favoring me and giving me their vote of confidence, which angered, some of the people in council because their candidates did not win. One of the councilman even cried.
Over a year ago on March 23, 2016 I was stripped of my mayoral position with the City of Socorro, Texas without any due process of law. One of them District 4 Yvonne Colon Villalobos did not know what due process of law was, as it was evident on their following meeting. Four members of the then council Maria Reyes District 1, Alejandro Garcia District 2, Yvonne Colon Villalobos District 4, and representative At Large Rene Rodriguez decided that I was guilty of using the city’s money for personal use, which was not so. I have all my documents in place.
Five years before (now more than 6 years) I was called to be a witness on an ongoing case, so it was not for my own benefit. I was never accused or charged by the courts with anything. I was solely a witness. It was city business. In the Socorro Charter it states that you cannot run for office if you owe money to Socorro. Since then I ran for District 2 representative won and served, then I ran for Mayor and won again. Why was I permitted to run? Because I did not owe any money to the city. Five years later they decide to do this.
The day before they voted me out, I was asked to meet with a councilmember and a friend of his (I did not know that that person would be there). They proceeded to push me so to say to resign my position and I asked them why since that would make me look guilty of something and I hadn’t done anything illegal. One of them said something like it doesn’t matter since we are going to kill you politically. Just tell the people that you are resigning for health reasons and we will write something nice enumerating your accomplishments. If not, then you are going to end up in debt (which I am), since lawyers are not cheap to make the story short, I did not resign.
Right away after the meeting when they voted me out, councilmen used the media to say that “I had committed many crimes”. Some councilwoman went to people’s houses to accuse me of many things as she has before. The people that know me know that I did not do such a thing, and to them I say thank you and God Bless you. These four individuals that I mentioned ignored all the people that voted for me and disposed of their wishes and votes. How could 4 people decide this when more than 2,000 people gave me that position?
For years I refused to be part of a group that exists in that faction of the city, so they looked for something to twist and use for their purpose to humiliate me, falsely accuse me and kill me politically.
I did not have the $10,000 that I needed to stop the next election and some of council knew that. One of them mentioned it to me in that meeting. I still don’t have enough money, but I am trying. I have sued the city and the council for the way they took away my position and other issues. Somebody has to let this council know that they, (and the people that helped them do this,) have to abide by the rules, regulations and the law just like other cities.
The salary for a council person used to be $10,000 a year and $15,000 for mayors. If I am correct, and please check, the council raised their salary to $15,000 for councilmen and $20,000 for mayors, along with the city paying them 100% health insurance. I believe Mr. Rene Rodriguez At Large representative put this item on the agenda of a meeting for the council to vote for this. Please check if this is true and correct. Did the people know this?
Through the years and even though I have been courteous and nice to people, I have I guess acquired enemies, but that is because I have worked hard so that certain people that sue the city frivolously do not take the people’s money. So, I have not been liked by them as well as by their friends and acquaintances.
I am doing this for me, but also for the people that believed in me and voted for me so that their votes will be validated and not thrown away like they were that day when my position was taken away. I have gone through a lot emotionally, etc., but I feel that I have to clear my name also. Many people know that I was wronged, some don’t. Either way, I ask for your prayers for me and for a good outcome for me and the city.
Gloria Macias Rodriguez
former Mayor of Socorro, TX.