Anthony Cobos is a politician from the State of Texas in the United States. He currently serves as the El Paso County Judge. Judge Cobos is also a former member of the El Paso City Council. El Paso County, Texas is located on the border of the United States and Mexico. Judge Cobos is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Judge Cobos was born in El Paso, and raised on a farm near Anthony, New Mexico. He is married to Leticia Juarez Cobos and together they have five children. Judge Cobos has been active in local politics for many years and owns several local businesses.
During his campaign for election as county judge, Judge Cobos stressed his desire to run a leaner, more efficient county government. This philosophy is summed by his campaign pledge: "No New Taxes". A strong fiscal conservative, Judge Cobos has also taken a hard line against issuing new governmental debt without voter approval.
In Texas, state law permits local governments to issue a form of debt known as Certificates of Obligation (COs). This type of debt was originally designed to be used in extreme emergencies, like floods or earthquakes, when a government would not have time to hold a bond election. In Judge Cobos' opinion, certificates of obligation should only be used for these types of emergencies. Recently, however, local government all across Texas have begun to issue COs for all sorts of projects that have nothing to do with emergencies.
In most local governments, including El Paso County, debt service forms a large part of the operating budget. Judge Cobos has maintained a consistent viewpoint throughout his career that voters, not elected officials, should make the determination about how much debt should be incurred by a community.
Judge Cobos was elected to represent District 8 of the El Paso City Council in 2001 and re-elected to a second two year term in 2003. Judge Cobos was chosen by his colleagues on City Council to serve as Mayor Pro-Tempore. In El Paso, the Mayor Pro-Tempore serves as Mayor when the elected Mayor is out of town and unable to fulfill his or her duties. Judge Cobos' second term on City Council was marked by his close relationship with Mayor Joe Wardy and his continued fight against the use of certificates of obligation for non-emergency uses.
Cobos' tenure on City Council was also notable for his very close association with the Bowling family, owner of Tropicana Homes. There was a general perception that Cobos frequently advanced the business interests of the Bowling family, even to the extent of actively undermining projects undertaken by rivals in the building industry, such as Ike Monte. It was Cobos' close association with the Bowlings (and their considerable campaign contributions to him) that was a major factor in his defeat when he sought re-election to a third term in 2005.
Cobos was defeated by Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, son of former El Paso County Judge Pat O'Rourke and the son-in-law of William "Bill" Sanders, in 2005. Soon after the 2005 City Council Election Cobos began planning for a political come back.
In late 2005, Judge Cobos began his campaign for El Paso County Judge. In Texas, the County Judge is an administrative, not a judicial, office. The County Judge serves as the presiding officer of the County Commissioners Court. In essence, a Texas County Judge serves as the "mayor" of his or her county.
A lifelong Democrat, Cobos entered the Democratic primary with five challengers. The most prominent among them was Barbara Perez, a former El Paso County Commissioner and trustee of Socorro Independent School District in El Paso. No Republican candidates filed for election as County Judge, so the Democratic Primary would decide the next El Paso County Judge. The incumbent judge declined to run for re-election.
After a difficult primary general election, it was determined that Cobos and Perez would face each other in a run-off election to determine the winner. Cobos won with 11,747 votes to Perez's 9,919 votes. Judge Cobos took office January 1, 2007.
Even after his election as County Judge, Cobos was still smarting from his loss to Beto O'Rourke, which was largely attributable to the perception that he was much too cozy with special interests. In an attempt to change this perception, Cobos announced to the El Paso Times, "This is a political rebirth for me. There is a big difference between where I am now and where I was three years ago. I will no longer be manipulated, blinded and influenced by special interests." This statement only reinforced the belief among Cobos' critics that Cobos' primary purpose in serving on City Council was to benefit special interests.
Judge Cobos is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for involvement in public corruption charges involving several high-profile citizens and organizations in El Paso. His office, along with the offices of two County Commissioners (Miguel Teran and Luis Sarinana) and the homes of Commissioner Teran and a member of the board of managers of R.E. Thomason Hospital (Arturo Duran), was searched by the FBI for evidence of crimes involving bribery and mail and wire fraud.
Judge Cobos has also come under fire for hiring a long-time controversial El Paso political activist Jaime O. Perez as his chief of staff. On December 11, 2008 Perez announced his resignation, effective in early 2009, and his intention to run for City Council against incumbent Steve Ortega, although Cobos the next day announced he would not accept Perez' resignation. Earlier in 2008 Perez asked County Attorney Jose Rodriguez for an opinion on whether a county judge can resign and still vote on their successor; Rodriguez affirmed that would be possible.
Cobos' previous chief of staff, Travis Ketner, pled guilty to several felonies and is considered a key source of information in the FBI corruption investigation. The charging document to which Ketner pled guilty indicated that Cobos hired Ketner at the urging of former El Paso County Judge and well-known political operative Luther Jones and that Ketner was hired for the explicit purpose of securing bribes for Cobos and others.
On December 12, 2008 Cobos held a news conference outside the offices of the El Paso Times to deny rumors that he may resign as county judge, and to attack the newspaper for an editorial that wished he would resign. Cobos asked Times publisher and president Ray Stafford and editorial writers Joe Muench and Charles Edgren to debate him, which they did not do. He claimed that the Times is "attempting to break me" and "control my votes and actions on the Commissioners Court." Cobos attempted to enter the Times building, but was blocked by newspaper employees. He also banged on the building's glass doors, and eventually slipped a letter with his complaints through the slit between the doors. At the news conference Cobos also refused to answer questions about whether the rumors of his resignation might be related to Ketner's allegation and the FBI investigation, although he did state that he had not spoken to any federal agency in a year and a half.
Some politicians rumored to be interested in replacing Cobos as county judge include City Council members Susie Byrd, Eddie Holguin, Steve Ortega, former county judge candidates Barbara Perez, Cobos' chief of staff Jaime Perez, and County Commissioners Veronica Escobar, Willie Gandara, and Dan Haggerty.
Sergio Coronado, who ran against Cobos in the 2006 primary, declared in July 2009 that he will run again in the 2010 primary. Larry Medina, a former City Council member and former County Commissioner, announced in October 2009 that he will run against Cobos in the 2010 primary.
|Preceded By||El Paso County Judge||Followed By|
|Dolores Briones||Anthony Cobos|