Donna mayoral candidate calls ineligibility to take office a 'political ploy'

Donna mayoral candidate Ernesto Lugo, who was deemed by the city as "administratively ineligible" to get elected, says the action is a 'political ploy' to keep him from taking office.

On Oct. 12, Donna mayoral candidate Ernesto Lugo received a letter in the mail from the Donna city secretary that stated Lugo's "candidacy has been administratively declared ineligible" for the November 2017 elections he is running in.

Lugo is running for Mayor against incumbent Irene Muñoz, Simon Sauceda and Rick Morales.

The city states in a news release that it received a complaint regarding Lugo's place of residency, which prompted further investigation.

In the letter sent to Lugo, the city tells him he does not reside inside city limits, therefore making him ineligible to run for mayor. Lugo, however, states he does live inside city limits.

“The issue of my candidacy has nothing to do with where I live, but everything to do with what I would do if elected mayor," Lugo said. "My mayoral campaign did not become an issue until we began circulating information about all questionable politics and contracts currently taking place.”

Lugo is calling this a ‘political ploy’ to stop him from taking office.

“If he won the election, then he may not be able to serve if he’s administratively ineligible, which means that he either didn’t have residency inside the city of six months or he’s a county resident, not so much a city resident,” said former Secretary of State Carlos Cascos.

According to the news release, the city secretary took the complaint to the city attorney, who then requested assistance from the Texas Secretary of State’s Office to determine Lugo's eligibility. Cascos says the state agency cannot make that decision, the city has to.

Lugo, who lives on Lott Road, signed a city development agreement when the city was annexing property. CBS 4 News obtained those documents, which show they were signed in December 2016. CBS 4 News also obtained Lugo’s application to run for mayor, and the document lists the same address in all his documents. Lugo’s voter registration card shows the same Lott Road address that he says has allowed him to vote in city elections.

"I also voted in the City of Donna municipal election and I am currently listed as active on the city of Donna registered voter list as per the Hidalgo County Elections Department," said Lugo. "This makes me eligible to vote and eligible to seek the office for Donna.”

Lugo's name remains on the ballot for Nov. 7th election.

Cascos states if Lugo wins the seat, he will have to challenge the claims in court.

Early voting begins Oct. 23rd.

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