Commissioners to decide if judge’s travel request should be granted ahead of runoff

Judge Luis Aguilar is heading into a runoff election after asking voters not to cast their ballot for him in the primary election.

The El Paso County Commissioners Court in an unprecedented situation.

The court is deciding whether to approve a $2,047.96 travel request for El Paso Judge Luis Aguilar.

The situation comes after Aguilar asked voters not to cast their ballot for him in the 2018 primary election. Aguilar is heading toward a runoff election for the 243rd District Court seat.

His travel request is from June 20 to June 23 for a training course in San Antonio.

The course itself cost $350. But the request includes $683.96 for a business select ticket, $429 for meals and $585 for three nights at a hotel.

For a four-day trip with three meals a day that comes out to about $36 per meal.

The reason why this decision has to be made by El Paso County commissioners is because Aguilar is heading to a runoff election, even though he previously asked to be taken off the ballot.

Since Aguilar may not be in office past December, when his current term ends, the county is looking into other options.

“If there's an opportunity for the state to pay for his travel and not the county, it's in the best interest for the taxpayers for that to happen,” Commissioner Andrew Haggerty said.

"It is a top-level training. There is a training that is offered that may not come at that high of a cost as it is being proposed now, if no cost at all,” County Judge Ruben Vogt said. “So I think we need to look at these options before the court makes a final determination."

The county postponed deciding to approve the request to see what local or less costly traveling option might be available for Aguilar.

But, the executive director of the Council of Judges in El Paso County said the training is required by the state.

"If you don't have the hours you're supposed to have, they fine you,” Mike Izquierdo, executive director of council of judges, said.

The county is hesitant about paying for him to go out of town for training, since he may not be in office in a few months.

"We are in a situation where it's a run-off, we're in a situation where he said he doesn't want to do it anymore, and the best training in the world for someone who doesn't want to do it anymore, may not be needed,” Haggerty said.

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