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A new county commissioner was sworn into office this week. She's a 36-year-old Yale educated attorney who will temporarily replace former commissioner Willie Gandara Jr. He is currently facing federal drug trafficking charges and has pleaded not guilty...
The Gandara name is well-known in his hometown of Socorro, Texas. The family owns land and has a prosperous recycling business. A Gandara currently sits on the town council. Willie Gandara Jr. and his father are both former mayors. Before his arrest, Willie Gandara Jr. was running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
"There has been a tradition in that area and all along the Mexican border of the ‘patrone system,’" Blevins said. "One person or a few people within one family dominate the political system over a long period of time."
Willie Gandara Sr. was indicted in 2010 on corruption charges while serving on the local school board. When he was mayor, a council member was charged with selling drugs to undercover cops in front of a local pizza place. A third Gandara faces corruption charges as the former superintendent of a school district in Chula Vista, California.