Photo: 12/12/1997 Mayor Carlos Ramirez introduces Texas Governor George Bush, who waved to the crowd during the governor's campain stop at the Val Verde campus of the El Paso Community College, Wenesday, Dec. 3, 1997. The El Paso stop was one of several on Bush's cross state campaign kick off.
May 4, 1997
El Paso Times
Three-time mayoral candidate Carlos Ramirez defeated challenger Raymond Telles in the biggest and most controversial of city elections.
Less than 18 percent of registered voters cast ballots for the election, the worst turnout for a mayoral race in history. The previous low of 19 percent was set in 1995.
"I'm very happy," the soft-spoken Ramirez said as a band blared and news media swarmed outside his headquarters at 214 Franklin in Downtown El Paso.
"I think we had a true grass-roots effort in our campaign and widespread support - that made a difference," Ramirez said. "But I do think the ethics question was a key issue in the campaign. ... I think Mr. Telles made some mistakes along the way."
Ramirez said he plans to meet with Mayor Larry Francis - who publicly supported him - and immediately begin working on the city's upcoming budget cycle.
Describing himself as a fiscal conservative, Ramirez said he would be a strong but quiet mayor. "I'm going to be soft-spoken but like Teddy Roosevelt would say, I'm going to carry a big stick."
Telles - surrounded by more than 200 cheering supporters, many of whom choked back tears with smiles - said he started his campaign on a positive manner and would end it that way, despite defeat.
"I feel satisfied and very content with the overall effort of the campaign - and all the volunteers who worked so hard," Telles said with a smile. But sadness flickered in his gray eyes.
"Yes, I am a little disappointed, especially with the voter turnout," Telles said. "We were relying on better turnout. But I do think the negative publicity ... dealt a critical blow."
The race between Ramirez and Telles had been generally calm until early April, when a series of actions prompted criticism of Telles' ethical standards.
"I voted for Ramirez because I think he's an honest man," said Gloria Kautz, 73, of East El Paso. She saw Ramirez speak on television. "He's so family oriented, he's very bright and I just think overall he's more honest and will help improve El Paso."
Ramirez, 46, is an engineer and president of Univer Industries, a small contract manufacturing and consulting company.
Telles said he plans to "get my personal life back in order.
"There is life after politics," Telles said.