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Blanco and Chavez to compete for Dist. 76 state representative seat in runoff

By: Stacey Welsh
EL PASO, Texas -- Cesar Blanco and Norma Chavez will compete for the District 76 state representative seat in a spring runoff election.

Blanco received about 44 percent of the vote, and Chavez received about 29 percent of the vote.

Blanco has served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, and Chavez is a former state representative for the district.

Incumbent state Rep. Naomi Gonzalez received about 27 percent of the vote.

However only about 5 percent of the more than 150,000 people in the district cast their ballots.

Blanco said his strategy going into the election is to continue knocking on people's doors.

"I guess my biggest challenge would be name ID, but we've been building that since November in people's living rooms, at coffee shops and at small businesses. We've been making a lot of headway, meeting folks and listening to their concerns," Blanco said.

Chavez said she was not available for an interview Wednesday but sent KFOX14 the following statement.

"I would like to thank the people of House District 76 for awarding me the opportunity to continue to bring my message of Effective Leadership. Six months ago, few people thought I had a chance.

I also want to thank Representative Naomi Gonzalez for her public service.

"I am taking today off to spend time with my mom, who underwent a medical procedure yesterday. Tomorrow, we will begin talking to voters and reminding them what I did for El Paso during my 14 years of service, such as bringing El Paso our treasured medical school, bringing millions of dollars in funding for transportation; and always advocating for the Tiguas and small business. I will also tell the voters what I plan to do if I am honored enough to return to Austin. I will work on bringing El Paso a law school; I will introduce a local bill that would require a vote of the people to decide on big ticket items such as the destruction of city hall; and I will create a public-private partnership to return the gravel back to grass at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery. Together, we will accomplish great things."

Blanco said he's also thankful for the community support he's received going into the March 4 election.

"We averaged 10 to 15 volunteers. Sometimes we had weekends where we had 20 people. It's been a community effort and a lot of volunteers. People took time off work just to create change in our community," Blanco said.

Both candidates said they plan to make public education funding a priority if elected.

"What's been happening in El Paso in terms of the corruption is something of concern. As a state legislator, you can exert some pressure on folks that aren't abiding by the rules. I think our teachers deserve pay raises. I think our teachers deserve smaller classroom sizes, so they can get more one-on-one interactions with the students." Blanco said.

"Public education is one of the most important issues, not only in El Paso, but the entire state. We have underfunded public education for years. We want to make sure that we have our students prepared for college. We want to stop with this TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) testing," Chavez said in a past interview with KFOX14 leading up to the election.

The runoff election between Chavez and Blanco is set to take place May 27.