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San Antonio

State Rep. Justin Rodriguez Appointed Precinct 2 Commissioner

Jan. 4, 2018
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Judge Nelson Wolff, far left watches Judge Peter Sakai swear in State Rep. Justin Rodriguez as commisioner of Precinct 2.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has appointed State Representative Justin Rodriguez to fill the Commissioner Precinct 2 seat left vacant by Paul Elizondo, who died unexpectedly on Dec. 27 at age 83.

Bexar County @Judge_wolff selects State Rep. Justin Rodriguez as the appointment for Commissioner Precinct 2 following the death of Commissioner Paul Elizondo. 

District Judge Peter Sakai swore in Rodriguez in a Friday morning ceremony at the courthouse to become the newest member of the Bexar County Commissioner’s Court.

Wolff said Rodriguez met all of the qualifications he was looking for in someone to represent the precinct, which covers parts of west and northwest Bexar County and San Antonio.

“He’s won 11 different elections. Out there, he’s served in three different capacitates. Nobody approached that — nobody did,” Wolff said.

Rodriguez was elected to the San Antonio Independent School District board in 2004, and was elected to the City Council in 2009. He left his seat on the council in 2011 and successfully ran for Texas House District 125 seat in 2012.

Wolff said he had given several months of careful consideration of who could potentially fill the seat if the need came up.

“I’ve been thinking about this issue for about the last year or longer because Commissioner Elizondo faced a number of serious health challenges,” he said. “As you know, he was in the hospital for three months not too long ago. And so I had to start thinking about what would I do. I went over a number of individuals — believe me — and looking towards who would have of someone in that district.”

Being appointed as a county official is not new for Rodriguez. It’s that experience he plans to draw from in his new role.

“Anything that happens here does not happen in the vacuum,” he said. “You have to be able to coordinate with the city on projects, with school districts.

“... And training of our workforce is important, that’s going to require some coordinating with our Alamo Colleges folks. So I think each one of those experiences have given me a perspective that will be helpful in bringing folks to the table or finding solutions to problems collectively.”

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval praised the appointment of Rodriguez.

“Justin Rodríguez has diligently served residents of the northwest side for years,” she said in a statement. “I offer him my congratulations and look forward to continue working together on initiatives to move our community forward.”

Bexar County commissioners and the county judge are elected to four-year teams in even-numbered election years.

As county judge for the commissioner’s court, Wolff is the sole authority who can make appointments when vacancies appear on the court. The appointment only lasts until the next general election, which is in 2020.

Since Elizondo’s term initially expired in 2022, the 2020 election will only be for a two-year term.

Elizondo, who served on commissioner’s court since 1983, faced a tough primary election in 2018 being forced into a May run-off by fellow Democrat Queta Rodriguez. Elizondo won by 52 percent or less than 400 votes.

She sent a letter to Wolff on Thursday asking him to consider adding a woman to the all-male commissioner’s court.

“Further, as a woman served by the only governing body in all of Bexar County that does not have a single woman representative, the appointment of a male without consideration of women who are fully competent and capable, is insulting. In a governing body whose decisions affect nearly 2 million people  and a precinct of nearly half a million, over 50% of whom are women, there is undoubtedly at least one woman who meets the requirements to serve as a County Commissioner.”

Asked about the lack of women on the commissioner’s court, Wolff said: “Across the spectrum, you’ll see women in leadership positions in Bexar County,” he said. “With respect to appointments and elected officials, the whole court of appeals is all women — one-half of the district judges are women — so we have a good diversity of women. The last appointment this court made before this one was a woman, Helen Stowe as a (county court at law) judge,” he said.

Rodriguez’s appointment means an effective resignation from the Texas House. The vacancy will lead to Governor Greg Abbott to call for a special election.

Joey Palacios can be reachedat joey@tpr.org or on Twitter @joeycules