Eligibility lawsuit surrounds Donna city council race

Local News

Eloy Avila and Oscar Gonzales (source: City of Donna)

DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The two candidates running for city council in Donna are involved in a lawsuit questioning the eligibility of the incumbent official.

Oscar Gonzales is challenging Eloy Avila for the position of Donna city council member, place 1. Gonzales formerly served on the council from 2017 to 2020.

Amidst the campaigning, both candidates are engulfed in a lawsuit put forward by Gonzales challenging Avila’s eligibility to serve the city of Donna.

Gonzales claims Avila uses a residence within Donna city limits to hold office even though, according to his petition in the lawsuit, Avila resides outside of the city limits.

The house, instead, is owned by Avila’s in-laws and is lived in by a third-party family, according to Gonzales. Instead, Gonzales claims, Avila has lived at a separate residence owned by his sister-in-law that is outside of Donna city limits.

Because of this, Gonzales feels Avila is ineligible to hold office in Donna due to rules set forth in the Texas Election Code.

Donna officials named in the lawsuit responded with a general denail of Gonzales’s claims. The defense states Gonzales needs substantial evidence to support his claims.

Avila went on to draft his own response to the lawsuit where he similarly denied the claims and states he’s lived at the same residence for 20 years. He alledges Gonzales is only taking this legal action to smear him in an attempt to unseat him.

Additionally, Avila calls the claims “frivolous” and points out that 12 people claim to use Gonzales’s home as a residence.

While Gonzales hoped to get this matter settled before election day on Nov. 2, an oral deposition from Avila scheduled for Friday may be delayed further. Avila claimed in legal documents he is unable to participate in the case until Nov. 3 because he is busy with election activities.

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