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Bexar County Commissioners selected Bexar County Deputy Sheriff Leticia Vazquez on Wednesday as the interim constable for Precinct 2.
After an hour of interviewing five candidates and discussion, commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Vazquez. Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) was not present for the interview and selection process Wednesday.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he appreciated Vazquez’s experience from the private sector – Vazquez worked at Kroger as a customer service manager – and was impressed with her personal statement.
“We must remember that public service is not about power, perks, or prestige,” Vazquez wrote. “It’s about the ability to make a solid difference to all of those we serve, especially those who have no advocate or voice of their own. Public service is truly the service of one individual who can make a difference in the community.”
The appointment process started last week after current Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela told reporters that she planned to run for Bexar County Sheriff in 2020. The District Attorney’s office opined that was the same as formally announcing her candidacy, which triggered her automatic resignation.
Out of the 29 applicants for the interim position, commissioners narrowed the search on Tuesday to five: Vazquez, Donald Falcon, Javier Flores, Mary Ruiz, and Debra L. Zerda.
Vela fought the County’s decision to appoint an interim replacement and received a temporary restraining order from visiting Judge John D. Gabriel that prevented county commissioners from swearing in her replacement before Oct. 11. The restraining order allowed commissioners to interview and select an appointee before then. A hearing on whether to lift the restraining order or make it permanent is scheduled for next Friday.
Wolff added the commissioners would get further clarification from the District Attorney’s office on when they could swear Vazquez into her new office.
Vazquez also said she does not plan to run for the constable seat in March, something that commissioners said they preferred in a candidate.
“I’m actually not into politics,” Vazquez said. “My interest in this is to come in and try and make it better. I don’t have any plans right now to run for constable, Precinct 2. I just wanted to take a chance, and try and make a difference in Precinct 2, and fix it for the next person.”
Commissioner Kevin Wolff (Pct. 3) congratulated Vazquez on her appointment and warned her that the job would not be easy, if the Oct. 11 hearing determined that she could fill the constable role in an interim capacity.
“I know,” Vazquez said with a chuckle. “I kind of figured that.”
Vela has been involved in multiple controversies in her first term. Two of her former employees filed a complaint against her to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year. She was also accused of extortion by a resident in May; Jesus Reyes claimed that Vela forced him to pay for security when he reserved a pavilion, when the county had already paid for peace officers to watch over parks that day. Vela denied the accusation.
“There’s going to be a lot of stuff you’re going to have to work on and clean up,” Wolff said in reference to the tumultuous tenure that Vela would leave behind. “I think I can safely say this court will back you in doing that to the best of our ability. If you are sworn into this position, it all rests on your shoulders, so good luck.”