Saying he would bring a business perspective to city government and listen to the people of El Paso, businessman Oscar Leeser announced on Friday he is running for mayor.
Leeser, 54, owns Hyundai of El Paso. The dealership, perhaps best known for its advertisements featuring Leeser’s mother, is the title sponsor of the Sun Bowl.
“Right now, El Paso is at a cross roads; it is a very important time in our city, and having the right people running it the right way will be very important,” he said.
Leeser said he would listen to the voters and bring taxes and spending under control.
“If the people take one thing out of what I’m going to do while I’m running, I hope it’s that their vote will count and their voice will be heard,” he said. “That’s really important and people are a little frustrated by that.”
Also important he said is Downtown redevelopment and working with the newly minted Borderplex Alliance to increase employment in the region.
“We need to bring business to increase our tax base. If we don’t increase our tax base, the same people paying taxes will have to pay more,” he said. “It’s simple math.”
The filing period ended Friday for the May 11 municipal election. Other candidates for mayor are substitute teacher Jorge Artalejo, businessman Robert Cormell, mortgage broker Gus Haddad, former National Hispanic Institute executive Hector Lopez, retired Defense Department employee Dean “Dino” Martinez, and District 7 city Rep. Steve Ortega.
Leeser was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where his father and mother worked as English teachers, and came to the U.S. in 1967 when he was 9 years old.
His automotive career began in 1979 when he was hired as a salesman for Kemp Ford in El Paso. He went on to work as the company’s general manager.
Now he is president of Hyundai of El Paso. Under his leadership the dealership has grown into the No. 1 Hyundai dealership in the South Central region and ninth in the nation.
Leeser also serves as president of Hyundai South Central Region and is a member of the National Dealer Council. He is a member of the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation and chairs the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Civil Service Commission.
At the announcement to show their support were state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, and former Mayor Joe Wardy.
“He’s been my friend for a very long time. I’ll be there for him as much or as little as he needs me,” Wardy said. “He’s grounded and he’s worked hard his whole life to be successful. Nobody has given him anything, and he cares a lot about this community.”
Pickett said many of his constituents feel like they haven’t been included in the city’s recent decision-making process, and would like to have a bit more “face time.”
“(Leeser’s) always been up front and is willing to consider what other people think. That has been lacking recently in city government,” Pickett said. “There are a lot of things they support but wish they had been asked their opinion.”
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Robert Gray at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422 ext. 105.