Commissioner made the decision himself

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Bartolo Guajardo, who Commissioner Javier Garcia previously said was selected by a committee, was in fact not selected by a group of law enforcement individuals but by the commissioner himself.

While Garcia did not do anything illegal, he did say at a previous Commissioner's Court meeting a committee was formed to start the selection process.

Garcia, at the July 11 meeting, said he had formed a committee as part of the constable selection process to replace the late constable Alonzo Lozano, and that the "committee" recommended Guajardo after reviewing several candidates.

The other candidates were Johnny Medina, a former deputy constable under Lozano, and Hector Delgado.

Garcia retracted that statement Wednesday and said a committee was never formed and that he only polled two law enforcement officials about the vacancy, Sheriff Oscar Lopez and Alice Police Sgt. Albert Martinez.

Martinez said he was only asked about Guajardo and that the other two candidates were not mentioned.

"He didn't ask me about Medina," he said. "I didn't know who was in the running when he asked about Bartolo."

Lopez said he was polled over the phone, but his opinion was just an opinion.

"The commissioner's court appoints. That's it, that's all I'm saying," Lopez said.

Garcia also said he was provided three names to consider for the constable vacancy by County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz.

Saenz said he wasn't sure whether he'd mentioned three names to Garcia, but did say the candidate, or their supporters, visited with him.

"I imagine if they came to me, they would also go to the commissioner whose decision it is," Saenz said.

Garcia said he removed Delgado from consideration because he did not have a peace officer license, which left Guajardo and Medina, both code enforcement officers for the City of Alice.

Garcia selected Guajardo.

Guajardo was then appointed by a 3-0 vote at the July 11 meeting in less than five minutes.

Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez was not present at the time of the vote and Saenz was on vacation.

Traditionally, the commissioner of the precinct decides any vacancies in their precinct, which is what Garcia did.

Guajardo will serve the remainder of Lozano's term, which will expire 2008. He will be eligible to run in the next election.