Race for the 16th Congressional seat: get to know the candidates

Christian Vasquez, Web Editor

As Representative Beto O’Rourke runs after Ted Cruz’s seat, the 16th Congressional District is up for grabs. At the same time, the Trump administration has spurred many to run for office with the hope of turning the state blue, or at least purple. Here is a brief look at the candidates running for the primary:


Veronica Escobar -former county judge

Escobar is running on a progressive ticket, advocating for immigration reform and single-payer health care. Escobar also supports free-trade agreements such as NAFTA.

Escobar has the endorsements of progressive organizations such as EMILY’s List, Our Revolution, End Citizen’s United, and many others. She is also endorsed by the current holder of the seat, Beto O’Rourke, and House Minority Whip Steve Hoyer, D-Md.

Dori Fenenbock-former EPISD board of  trustees president

Fenenbock is running on a centrist platform, and says that in divisive times, El Paso needs a candidate who can bring the parties together. As the former president of the board of EPISD, Fenenbock has strong views on supporting public education. She also advocates for immigration reform and is against the border wall, but does say that the U.S. needs to better enforce existing laws, which call for strong border controls.

Fenenbock has been endorsed by the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association and the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas.

Enrique Garcia-immigration attorney

Like all of the Democratic tickets, Garcia advocates for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. However, Garcia also says that he is for the privatization of immigration detention centers and the county jail, according to the El Paso Times. Garcia says his experience as an immigration lawyer helps him really understand what immigration reform means. Garcia supports NAFTA and wants to make education more affordable, as well as reform the Affordable Care Act.

Jerome Tilghman-retired army major

Tilghman ran for the 16th District in 2012 and has entered the race once again. He also advocates for immigration reform, but blames the American drug appetite for the violence in Latin America. Tilghman also wants to spend more on education, less on incarceration and is an advocate for closing the gender wage gap. As a Army Major, Tilghman wants to work to lower suicide rates among veterans.

John Carrillo– director of development for KTEP

Carrillo said that his top three priorities are immigration reform, education and taking better care of El Paso veterans. While Carrillo has never held office before, he says that he has spent a lifetime working in management positions, including being the project engineer for an NPR series that won the Peabody Award. Carrillo also advocates for environmental protections.

Norma Chávez-former state Rep

After serving in the Texas House of Representatives for 14 years, Chávez claims that her experience will better help her serve El Paso in Congress, and said recently that Democratic legislators need to load bills with provisions to get Democratic legislation passed.

Chávez advocates for immigration reform, such as giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, as well as single-payer health care.


Alia Garcia-Urestea-Texas Holocaust and genocide commission

One of the two Republicans on the ballot, Garcia-Ureste was selected by Governor Rick Perry to become the first Hispanic woman to serve as Madam State Commissioner of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.

In a campaign ad, she said that she wants to hear the untold story of El Pasoans on the border. She has said that her vision for El Paso is one that focuses on job creation in a recent congressional forum. She is also for charter schools, but says that they need to work harder to be at the same level as public schools.

Rick Seeberger-businessman

Rick Seeberger is running on a solid Republican ticket. He advocates for lowering property taxes, is pro-life, advocates for legal immigration only as he does not support the Dream Act. Seeberger says that he wants El Paso to be a “strong model for the nation.”

Voting information

•Last day to register: Feb. 2

•Early voting begins Feb. 20 and ends March 2.

•Primary election voting day is March 6.