The El Paso Mayor race of 1973

In 1973, Mayor Bert Williams ran for a second term despite some controversies during his administration. The mayor split with his city council, even with those who ran on his ticket in 1971, when he won a close race over contractor and city public works alderman, Clinton Wolf.  All of his team members expect, one was elected. Williams main point in his campaign was that he thought he was accomplishing one of his promises to give the city back people and away from the special interests,  he ran against like the kingmakers against the city establishment. His platform in 1971 included to enforce air pollution laws, also another issue he cared a lot was transportation and to improved housing in south El Paso

Infighting between him and council and charges of an alleges unethical land swap. Also his support of removing smelter town residents from their land because it was found that it was contaminated but the residents resisted this move was also supported by the state. Hector Bencomo who family owned Ruidoso Grocery and Sal Berrteran,  who owned his photo studio and builder, Don Benge all three were aldermen elected on Williams team.

Bencomo accused him of being too politically ambitious. In an oral interview with a UTEP student, he talked about he was made out to be a radical just because he supported the Chicano movement. Bencomo was a member of the establishment when he was elected alderman in 1963 during the term of mayor Williams, against but retired, but came back against the establishment in 1971 running with Bert Williams. Bencomo also appealed to the youth and supported they rights to protests, he was alderman during the Chicano walkouts in El Paso schools and went to talk with the students because he was police alderman and also promised to investigate El Paso cases of police brutality. Fred Hervey El Paso mayor from 1951-1955 and businessman came out of retirement running on his record as mayor, his business experience, someone who will restore harmony at city hall and ran with a slate of candidates, emphasizing teamwork.

The race was bitter had its share of political fireworks including charges that Hervey that belonged to the John Birch society. Mayor Bert Williams when after heavy a publishing company he owned published some kind of pornographic book, Hervey said it was done on accident. Hervey easily was elected defeating Bencomo in a runoff.

Joseph Longo

EPHS Curator

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.