Edinburg city secretary no longer point of contact with county for election

Edinburg city secretary Ludivina Leal is no longer the point of contact with Hidalgo County for the upcoming November 2019 municipal election, according to county elections administrator Yvonne Ramón.

Leal faces a second-degree felony charge of illegal voting connected to Edinburg’s 2017 mayoral race.

City Manager Juan Guerra confirmed the move, and said it maintains the integrity of the election by shifting the responsibility to the city attorney’s office, which is apolitical. But he downplayed potential of impropriety because the county is contracted to run the election.

Councilman Gilbert Enriquez motioned to remove the city secretary Tuesday evening during a city council meeting, but the motion failed with a 2-2 vote. Another meeting is expected to take place next week to finalize any changes, if any, Guerra said.

City spokesperson Cary Zayas, after Leal was arrested earlier this month, said in a  statement that accusations against Leal would not impact city operations.

The decision by the city comes days after Edinburg city council candidate Carlos Jasso drafted a letter asking the Texas Secretary of State to oversee the city’s election.

Jasso wrote “the doubt cast over our city’s upcoming election is tearing our community apart,” referencing the potential conflict created by Leal’s arrest and indictment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, Ramón and state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa were included in the letter.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Hinojosa addressed the concerns raised by Jasso.

“Obviously, there are concerns by some of the citizens — some of the voters,” Hinojosa said, “and I think it’s a legitimate request.”

He said requests can be made by municipalities, officials or candidates, and aren’t out of the ordinary.

Hinojosa said he requested an election inspector for the 2018 Agua SUD director election.

The city secretary is one of 22 people indicted in the Texas Attorney General’s investigation into the 2017 municipal election. Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, and his wife Dalia, are both among those facing charges.