Webb County, Texas

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Webb County, Texas
Webb County Courthouse 2.JPG
The Webb County Courthouse in Laredo
Seal of Webb County, Texas
Seal
Map of Texas highlighting Webb County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1848
Seat Laredo
Largest city Laredo
Area
 • Total 3,376 sq mi (8,744 km2)
 • Land 3,361 sq mi (8,705 km2)
 • Water 14 sq mi (36 km2), 0.4%
Population
 • (2010) 250,304
 • Density 74.6/sq mi (29/km²)
Congressional district 28th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website webbcounty.com
The Texas tourism travel station is located at the intersection of Interstate 35 and U.S. Route 83 north of Laredo, Texas.
Typical Webb County ranch road north of Texas State Highway 359 (2012)

Webb County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the official 2010 census population for the county is 250,304.[1] Its county seat is Laredo.[2] The county was named after James Webb,[3] who served as Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State, and Attorney General of the Republic of Texas, and later judge of the United States District Court following the admission of Texas to statehood. By area, Webb County is the largest county in South Texas and one of the largest in the state. It is northeast from the Mexican border.

Webb County comprises the Laredo Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit]

Webb County was split in 1856. Encinal County was established on February 1, 1856 and was to have consisted of the eastern portion of Webb County. However, Encinal County was never organized and was finally dissolved on March 12, 1899, and the territory in question returned to Webb County.

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,376 square miles (8,740 km2), of which 3,361 square miles (8,700 km2) is land and 14 square miles (36 km2) (0.4%) is water.[4]

Major highways[edit]

Complete List of Highways in Webb County, Texas

Adjacent counties and municipalities[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,397
1870 2,615 87.2%
1880 5,273 101.6%
1890 14,842 181.5%
1900 21,851 47.2%
1910 22,503 3.0%
1920 29,152 29.5%
1930 42,128 44.5%
1940 45,916 9.0%
1950 56,141 22.3%
1960 64,791 15.4%
1970 72,859 12.5%
1980 99,258 36.2%
1990 133,239 34.2%
2000 193,117 44.9%
2010 250,304 29.6%
Est. 2012 259,172 3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1850-2010[6]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 193,117 people, 50,740 households, and 43,433 families residing in the county. The county gained 57,000 additional residents between 2000 and 2010. The population density was 58 people per square mile (22/km²). There were 55,206 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 82.16% White, 0.37% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 14.00% from other races, and 2.54% from two or more races. 94.28% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 50,740 households out of which 53.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.60% were married couples living together, 18.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.40% were non-families. 12.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.75 and the average family size was 4.10.

In the county, the population was spread out with 36.20% under the age of 18, 11.40% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 15.60% from 45 to 64, and 7.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 92.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,100, and the median income for a family was $29,394. Males had a median income of $23,618 versus $19,018 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,759. About 26.70% of families and 31.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.40% of those under age 18 and 26.90% of those age 65 or over.

County government[edit]

Like all Texas counties, Webb County is governed by four part-time county commissioners paid $76,220 annually and elected by single-member districts of equivalent population and a county-wide county judge, who is the full-time administrator of the county. The current county judge Danny Valdez, leaves the position after two terms on December 31, 2014 and will be succeeded by Tano Tijerina, a former professional baseball player and local rancher and diversified businessman. Valdez narrowly defeat Tijerina in 2010,[8] but Tijerina rebounded with a 65-35 percent victory over Valdez in the Democratic primary election held on March 4, 2014.[9]

The four commissioners[edit]

Precinct 1[edit]

Precinct 1, from south Webb County, Linda Ramirez (born c. 1975), is an interim appointee to the commission, selected by state Judge David Peeples.[10]She succeeded Mike Montemayor (born c. 1977), who resigned on June 20, 2014, after less than a year and a half in the office. Montemayor pleaded guilty on June 19, 2014 in a plea bargain to accepting about $11,000 in cash and $2,700 in electronics from a businessman who, unbeknownst to Montemayor, was an undercover agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Montemayor awaits sentencing on October 7; he could receive up to ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.[11]

Montemayor was elected in 2012 and took office on January 1, 2013. He faced a two-count indictment for having solicited and accepted bribes in exchange for promises to perform various official acts for private gain. He allegedly accepted a truck valued at $37,000 in exchange for promising to find government jobs to the owner of the vehicle as well as the man's wife. The government elected not to proceed with that charge after Montemayor pleaded guilty to the other count against him. Had he been convicted on both counts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Montemayor could have faced up to ten years in prison and fines of $500,000 on both bribery charges.[12]After he posted bail, Montemayor said on Facebook that "there is more to the story, a lot more" than has yet to be revealed. Montemayor added that he has "a great team of attorneys" but cannot himself discuss the specifics of the case in public.[13]Meanwhile, a county resident, Juan Avila, in a public meeting on March 24, called upon the commissioners court to remove Montemayor from office. Under state law, a resident may file a written petition for removal with a district court judge. Avila told the commissioners, "It is true that you're innocent until proven guilty. But when the FBI comes and picks you up, that's a whole different matter."[14]

County attorney Marco Montemayor (no relation to Mike Montemayor) proposed that the commissioner be suspended and denied his pay pending a hearing set for July 1 before Judge Peeples in the 49th District Court.[15]Montemayor agreed to accept the suspension and the loss of pay, considering chaotic events which occurred at his most recent commissioners court meeting.[16]Twenty-four applied for the post, including former commissioner Francisco J. "Frank" Sciaraffa (born c. 1972) and former County Judge Louis H. Bruni.[17]

In April 2014, prosecutors claimed that Montemayor pocketed thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, accepted all-expense paid trips, sought to have traffic tickets dismissed in exchange for favors, and lived outside his precinct when he filed for office.[17]

Outgoing County Judge Danny Valdez reappointed Ramirez, a United South High School teacher, as interim commissioner. However, the Webb County Democratic Party in early August 2014, in a 9/13 vote of its precinct chairmen, endorsed former Commissioner Frank Sciaraffa to return to the seat that he had held prior to having been unseated in 2012 by Montemayor. Ramirez did not receive a single vote among the precinct chairs.[18] The upcoming special election will be held in conjunction with the general election on November 4. This special election is required under the Texas election code because Ramirez joined the court 137 days prior to the general election. The law would have allowed her to serve through 2015 without facing voters only if her assumption of the position had begun no more than seventy-four days before the general election.[19]

Sciaraffa continues to face his own legal problems. In 2012, Sara Jo Davila filed suit against Webb County and Sciaraffa after she was removed from her position as a community center director. Davila claimed that she had been forced to perform sexual acts on Sciaraffa to keep her position. In March 2013, Sciaraffa, after having first denied specific sexual encounters with the woman, admitted to contact but claimed the relations were consensual. There has since been little court movement in the Sciaraffa-Davila case.[18]

Precinct 2[edit]

Precinct 2, Rosaura Palacios Tijerina, known as "Wawi" Tijerina (born c. 1957), was elected in 2006, 2010, and on March 4, 2014. In her last two Democratic primary contests she defeated former commissioner Judith Gutierrez'. A graduate of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Tijerina was from 1998 to 2002 the elected part-time Laredo city judge and from 1989 to 2008 an instructor of criminal justice at Laredo Community College, from which she received an associate's degree in 1978. She is also a practicing attorney in Laredo. Her Precinct 2 includes a part of mid-Laredo and also encompasses the largest rural areas of Webb County: Aguilares, Mirando City, Oilton, and Bruni. Tijerina's husband, Omar Tijerina, Sr.,[20] is an uncle of incoming Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina, under whom she will serve beginning on January 1, 2015.

Precinct 3[edit]

Precinct 3, John Clifford Galo (born 1958), was first elected in 2012 to succeed Jerry Garza, who ran unsuccessfully for the Texas House of Representatives against Tracy King in House District 80 and in 2014 is a candidate for mayor of Laredo. Galo is a former two-term member of the Laredo City Council and an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in the 2006 election, having been defeated by Raul G. Salinas.[21] In 2014, Salinas lost a bid for Webb County treasurer against the three-term incumbent Delia Perales.

Precinct 4[edit]

Precinct 4, Jaime Alberto Canales (born c. 1967), was first elected in 2010. A former science educator and school principal,[22]Canales won his runoff election for a second term as commissioner on May 27, 2014. He defeated fellow Democrat Jose Valdez, Jr., a former member of the Laredo City Council. In a low-turnout contest, Canales polled 1,963 votes (53.8 percent); Valdez, 1,683 (46.2 percent).[23] In the March 4 primary election, Canales garnered 46 percent; Valdez, 30 percent.[24]

Politics[edit]

Webb County is overwhelmingly Democratic and has voted for that party's electors since 1912. Although Texas as a whole voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama won 33,435 votes (71 percent) of the ballots in Webb County. McCain was a distant second in Webb County with 13,111 votes (28 percent). Obama fared better than Democrat John Kerry had done in 2004. Latinos in Texas gave Obama 63 percent of their ballots, whereas Kerry had polled 50 percent among that group in Texas. In Webb County, Kerry received 23,654 (57 percent) to George W. Bush's 17,753 (42 percent). Nearly 57,000 registered voters in Webb County did not cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election.

In 2012, despite the continuing statewide Republican trend, Webb County rebuffed Mitt Romney and cast an even larger percent of its vote for President Obama than it had done in 2008.

Webb County also voted in 2008 and 2012 for the Democratic nominees for the United States Senate, State Representative Rick Noriega of Houston, who failed to unseat Republican incumbent John Cornyn, and then Paul Sadler, a former state representative from Henderson, who lost to Republican nominee Ted Cruz for the right to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Because of the heavy Democrat allegiance in Webb County, Republicans rarely offer candidates for county office. In the March 4, 2014 primary, 1,151 (4.6 percent) voted in the Republican primary in Webb County, compared to 23,958 (95.4 percent) in the Democratic contests.[25]

Education[edit]

Three school districts serve Webb County:

Prior to 1994 Webb CISD served only Bruni and Oilton. Mirando City Independent School District served the community of Mirando City from 1923 to 2005. Prior to 1994 all Mirando City children attended Mirando City ISD schools. After the spring of 1994, Mirando High School closed.[26] Therefore, from the fall of 1994 to July 1, 2005, WCISD served high schoolers from Mirando City while Mirando Elementary School in the Mirando City ISD served pupils from kindergarten through 8th grade. On May 9, 2005 the Texas Education Agency ordered the closure of Mirando City ISD. The district closed on July 1, 2005, and all students were rezoned to Webb CISD schools.[27]

The private Holding Institute is a former United Methodist boarding school operating as a downtown Laredo community center.

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated areas[edit]

Source: Webb County Planning and Physical Development Department[28]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Find A Grave, James Webb
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  8. ^ Zach Lindsey, "Webb County Judge: Valdez emerges victorious, Laredo Morning Times, April 14, 2010, p. 1
  9. ^ "Final primary election results released". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Judge picks teacher: Linda Ramirez named temp. Pct.1 commissioner, Laredo Morning Times, May 3, 2014, p. 1
  11. ^ Philip Balli. "Commissioner Mike Montemayor pleads guilty to bribery". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  12. ^ Cesar G. Rodriguez, "Montemayor busted: Accused of soliciting and accepting bribes", Laredo Morning Times, March 20, 2014, pp. 1, 8A
  13. ^ Aldo Amato, "Commissioner's Bribery Charges: Speaking Out: Mike Montemayor defends himself on social media after posting bond", Laredo Morning Times, March 21, 2014, p. 1
  14. ^ "Aldo Amato, County resident to petition for commissioner's resignation, March 24, 2014". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Suspension hearing date, judge set", Laredo Morning Times, April 10, 2014, p. 1
  16. ^ "Temporary suspension: Montemayor to step aside once appointee named," Laredo Morning Times, April 11, 2014, pp. 1, 16A
  17. ^ a b "Webb County Commissioner Mike Montemayor: More Accusations: New claims linked to bribery charges, [say] prosecutors", Laredo Morning Times, April 27, 2014, pp. 1, 9A
  18. ^ a b Louis San Miguel, "Dems choose Sciaraffa as candidate: He could regain his commissioners seat", Laredo Morning Times, August 5, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
  19. ^ Philip Balli, "New Commissioner: Official: Special election on Election Day for new rep:, Laredo Morning Times, July 14, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
  20. ^ "Biographical History". webbcountytx.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  21. ^ Laredo Morning Times, June 18, 2006, p. 1
  22. ^ "Jaime Canales". webbcountytx.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  23. ^ Phillip Balli, "Jaime Canales wins Pct. 4 runoff," Laredo Morning Times, May 28, 2014, p. 1
  24. ^ "Early voting begins today in runoffs,", Laredo Morning Times, May 19, 2014, p. 1
  25. ^ "2014 Democratic and Republican Party Primary Election Returns for WEBB COUNTY". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  26. ^ Mirando City, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
  27. ^ Bogan, Jesse. "A school district counts its final days." San Antonio Express-News. May 9, 2005. 01A. Retrieved on April 11, 2009.
  28. ^ Webb County Planning and Physical Development Department Geographic Information Systems

Further reading[edit]

  • Lambert, R.B. (2004). Hydrogeology of Webb County, Texas [Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5022]. Reston, VA: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°46′N 99°20′W / 27.77°N 99.33°W / 27.77; -99.33