Rio Grande Council of Governments names Guevara as elected official of the year

EL PASO — Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara was awarded elected official of the year by the Rio Grande Council of Governments at its annual meeting last Friday, September 24.

Judge Guevara, who was also completing her one year term as the RGCOG’s president, was presented the award by RGCOG Executive Director Annette Gutierrez. She credited Guevara with galvanizing the region to find opportunities to collaborate and partner with each other. 

Gutierrez mentioned how it was Guevara who started weekly video meetings to discuss vaccination efforts and was sure to include all five of the rural counties in the discussions, adding that knowing that local elected officials couldn’t accomplish this alone, she tirelessly worked to have state and local agencies participate on the call. Finally, Gutierrez recognized the tangible outcome that Guevara’s county became one of the first to reach vaccine levels that confer herd immunity.

“What I’m most proud of is that we are the most vaccinated county in the state, and we reached herd immunity very early on,” Guevara said, speaking about her role as an elected official over the past year. “My idea was everybody would be vaccinated by July but more or less we were able to be fully vaccinated by May.”

“I’m proud to have helped bring the vaccine to our county. That was just because of how well everyone worked together,” she added, crediting Marfa EMS Director Bert Lagarde, the mayors of Marfa and Presidio, Gutierrez and the COG and the many other officials who worked together to accomplish the high vaccination rate in the area. Because of the five-county cooperation, “We were even able to help Hudspeth and Culberson get vaccines over there,” she said.

Guevara enjoyed her term as president of the RGCOG, saying it felt good to be called upon by other county judges to assist them. Up next, the judge said she is joining a committee for the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association.

At the same RGCOG meeting, Guevara exited her term as president of the RGCOG, and new officers and directors were put in place across the organization. Peter Svarzbein, representative for District #1, City of El Paso, is the new president of the RGCOG for FY 2022. Svarzbein, the 54th president of the RGCOG, will begin his one-year term on October 1, 2021, and will serve until September 30, 2022.

Summer Webb, the mayor for the town of Valentine, will serve as the first vice president and will be tasked with the responsibility to step in for the president if he is unable to carry out duties, and she will serve on the finance committee. 

Mayor Webb will represent small communities outside of El Paso County and will be charged with representing the interests of the communities she serves.

The RGCOG’s general membership on Friday also approved the organization’s Annual Work Program and Budget of $8,882,124.