Tie-cutting Mayor Jonathan Rogers Seeks Fourth Consecutive Term
EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Mayor Jonathan Rogers, a well-heeled Connecticut Yankee who has held court in this mostly Hispanic city for six years, is seeking re-election to a fourth term Saturday.
Rogers, 58, who got his picture in Time magazine two years ago when he proclaimed a summer ban on ties and coats and enforced the edict by shearing the ties of several bureaucrats, is expected to win the non-partisan election easily.
″I believe that I’m an El Pasoan and that the citizens of El Paso will re- elect me,″ said Rogers, who has made his home here for the last 30 years.
He would be only the second mayor in city history to hold office for eight years in a row. The city charter limits him to four consecutive two-year terms.
His challengers on the ballot include Joe Mendoza, a physician and former chairman of the El Paso County Democratic Party, and Richard G. Wagner, a high school teacher who served one term on City Council in the late 1970s.
Rogers, a retired mortgage banker, has ruled City Hall with a strong hand and a sharp nose for business. He’s been criticized for a personality as smooth as sandpaper and a net personal worth he doesn’t care to discuss.
″I’m well off, not wealthy,″ he insists. Besides, he says, that just means ″nobody’s going to influence my vote.″
Born in New Haven, Conn., Rogers earned an industrial administration degree from Yale in 1950. As an Army lieutenant stationed at Fort Bliss, the military reservation in El Paso, Rogers married Patricia Murchinson, an El Paso socialite, in 1954.
The couple had two girls and two boys and built a mansion off a scenic road hugging El Paso’s Mount Franklin. Rogers turned his mortgage investment company into one of the 75 largest in the nation before he sold it in 1984.
At a roast for Rogers that year, a local baseball club owner joked that the real reason the mayor was loathe to raise property taxes was that he owned most of the property in town.
Rogers, who said he does not own much property around El Paso, has raised property taxes since then - by 5 percent in 1985 and 1.6 percent last year.
In his six years in office, Rogers has followed a simple but effective business line: cut costs and increase revenues, said Joseph Higdon, who was the city’s comptroller for 26 years until his retirement in 1986.
Among the mayor’s first measures was an increase of about 40 percent in garbage collection fees that netted the city more than $1 million a year and the elimination of step salary increases, which saved the city about $500,000 a year, said Joseph Higdon, the city’s comptroller until he retired last year.
Rogers also consolidated the city and county data processing facilities and tax collection offices.