Presidio County Judge candidate questionnaire

Candidate for Presidio County Judge Jose Portillo Jr. weighs in ahead of the March 1 primary election. His opponent incumbent Judge Cinderela Guevara (R) did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 

 Jose Portillo Jr. (D)

  • Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I’m a 1984 graduate of Presidio High School, and upon graduation I went to serve my country in the United States Army. It afforded me a great opportunity to see the world and appreciate the country we live in. I eventually went to the Department of Public Safety Academy –– trooper, investigator, lieutenant and eventually retired honorably as a captain. I attended the University of Texas at El Paso and eventually graduated from Angelo State University with a bachelor’s in criminal justice and minor in psychology. I am also a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. I am married to my high school sweetheart and will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary in April. We have two children. Our daughter is a nurse at Midland Memorial and our son is on active duty with the United States Army in Ft. Carson, Colorado. Most recently after returning to Presidio, I was privileged to service my community as city administrator for the City of Presidio for a little over four years.

My two biggest strengths are first: the ability to read and interpret the law. My law enforcement background has afforded me experience in justice of the peace court, county court, district court and the federal court system. My second asset is the ability to effectively listen, understand and communicate with the public.

  • What is the biggest issue affecting Presidio County residents today, and what is your plan to address it?

Our county government is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Currently, the county depends upon the cities of Presidio and Marfa to provide two of its most important responsibilities which are the fire department and emergency services. Although the county does provide stipends to these communities, the time has come for the county to provide a bigger and more proactive role. It is time for our county to have the ability to provide urgent care and emergency services for its residents and consider the creation of an emergency services district which will allow our county as a whole to seek state and federal funding to accomplish.

  • How do you plan to lead the commissioners court and balance the needs of each district?

Currently the county operates their budget with the county in mind as a whole. There is no mechanism for commissioners from individual precincts to address the needs of their precincts. I believe that each commissioner should have monies dedicated within the budget for them to address the needs of their precinct. Although the individual commissioners from those districts would have to justify the expenditures, the dedicated monies for that precinct would allow them to go to their constituents to determine their needs and possibly seek state and federal grants to support their individual precincts’ goals.

  • The county has faced a number of natural disasters over the past few years — a pandemic, winter storms, wildfires and flooding. How can the county be better prepared for future emergency events?

If there is one thing that the military and my time with the Department of Public Safety has taught me, it is that “if you do not have a plan, then you have planned to fail.” Most disasters, while not alike, have many things in common, and if you train for one, it will allow you to address many situations that may arise. It all starts with training. With the limited resources at our disposal, it is imperative that we work with all the entities that make up our community and train for and expect anything that may come our way.