At the conclusion of our El Pasoan of the Year luncheon every year, we wonder what in the world we’ll do for the next round.

Then by November, we start evaluating nominees and confidence is restored by El Pasoans who never stop doing amazing and selfless things.

But I’m not sure we will ever top this last one. I joked at Tuesday’s lunch that this was it. It might be our big one.

Indeed, it was our best-attended event to date with more than 600 along with national media interest, a first for sure. Heck, outside of our media partners at KVIA it’s hard to even get local media attention.

We are grateful for this success and recognize that it relies much on the level of interest surrounding the honorees.

But that is not the reason they are selected.

The project started with the idea of celebrating achievements that benefit the community and, hopefully, encourages others. Typically we are looking for the individual who has done the most to improve the quality of life or move El Paso forward over the year. We announce the winner at the end of the year.

Over the course of the last 22 years, we’ve also expanded the project to include a Community Spirit Award.

El Paso Inc. doesn’t select the winners alone. Of course we love input from our readers and pay attention to their feedback. But we also lean on our prestigious group of past recipients to help us out.

It’s a blue-chip list, which includes the people responsible for El Paso’s greatest milestones over the last two decades. Theirs is the kind of work that has set a new course for El Paso.

We poll this group for potential El Pasoan of the Year nominees every year. Then, after the nominees are whittled down to a short list of finalists, we go back to the group and ask them to weigh in on who should be named.

We appreciate their participation and feel that it’s a really important part of the process.

There are years when the selection is controversial. What one thinks is progress for the city, another disagrees. And then every so often we tread into political territory and things get extra sticky. Surely if you’re on the opposite political spectrum of the honoree you’ll be opposed to their recognition. We saw a little of that this year as noted in the Letters to the Editor.

But then I’m reminded of exactly why we named Beto. During his historic senatorial campaign, he connected El Paso to the state and to the nation like no one else in El Paso’s history, forever changing the perception of El Paso. And he did it for El Paso once again on Tuesday, even dragging this hometown weekly onto the national stage!

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