Former El Paso Mayor Ray Salazar has died. Salazar was the second Hispanic elected to the office in El Paso.

Mr. Salazar was mayor from 1977-1979. He was instrumental in getting the City Hall built that was demolished to make way for Southwest University ballpark. During the fight over the ballpark, Mr. Salazar and an anti-ballpark group sued then-City Manager Joyce Wilson and two city representatives to stop the demolition of the old City Hall building. The group accused Wilson and city reps Steve Ortega and Courtney Niland of conspiring to misuse public funds. The lawsuit failed and the ballpark was built.

Mr. Salazar also worked to recall City Rep. Courtney Niland, and planned, ultimately, to recall all six City Council members who voted in favor of the ballpark proposal. Mr. Salazar felt strongly that voters should have been able to say yes or no to the ballpark.

Current El Paso Mayor, Oscar Leeser, released a statement about Mr. Salazar:

“I am saddened on the passing of former Mayor Ray Salazar. On behalf of our City, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and close friends. I am grateful for his friendship and the dedication and service he provided our community during his time as Mayor.”

Mr. Salazar was a good public servant, and a life-long El Pasoan who worked to better the city he loved. He was also a close family friend, and someone I held in high esteem.

He will be missed.

Rest in peace, Mr. Salazar.

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