Webb County, Texas
|Webb County, Texas|
The Webb County Courthouse in Laredo
Location in the state of Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
|• Total||3,376 sq mi (8,744 km2)|
|• Land||3,361 sq mi (8,705 km2)|
|• Water||14 sq mi (36 km2), 0.4%|
|• Density||74.6/sq mi (29/km²)|
|Time zone||Central: UTC-6/-5|
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. Its county seat is Laredo. The county was named after James Webb, 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Major highways
- 4 Demographics
- 5 County government
- 6 Politics
- 7 Education
- 8 Communities
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
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.
- Interstate 35
- Interstate 69W (Under Construction)
- U.S. Highway 59
- U.S. Highway 83
- State Highway 44
- State Highway 255
- State Highway 359
Adjacent counties and municipalities
- Dimmit County (north)
- La Salle County (north)
- Duval County (east)
- Jim Hogg County (southeast)
- Zapata County (south)
- Maverick County (northwest)
- McMullen County, Texas (northeast corner)
- Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico (west)
- Hidalgo, Coahuila, Mexico (west)
- Anáhuac, Nuevo León, Mexico (west)
- Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico (southwest)
- Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Mexico (southwest)
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census 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.
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, but Tijerina rebounded with a 65-35 percent victory over Valdez in the Democratic primary election held on March 4, 2014.
The four commissioners
Precinct 1, from south Webb County, Francisco J. "Frank" Sciaraffa (born 1972) was returned to the commission in a special election held on November 4, 2014, in conjunction with the regular general elections held across Texas and the nation. He succeeded Linda Ramirez (born c. 1975), an interim appointee who had been selected by presiding Judge David Peeples, a Republican of the Texas 4th Administrative Judicial Region, a twenty-two county area in and about San Antonio. Sciaraffa has invited Anna Laura Cavazos Ramirez, the former county attorney, to become his administrative aide.
Ramirez 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 defeated Sciaraffa 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. 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. 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."
County attorney Marco Montemayor (no relation to Mike Montemayor), who in 2012 unseated Anna Laura Cavazos Ramirez, proposed that Mike Montemayor be suspended and denied his pay pending a hearing set for July 1 before Judge Peeples in the 49th District Court. Montemayor agreed to accept the suspension and the loss of pay, considering chaotic events which occurred at his most recent commissioners court meeting. Twenty-four applied for the post, including former commissioner Sciaraffa and former County Judge Louis H. Bruni.
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.
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 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. On November 4, 2014 Sciaraffa defeated his lone opponent, a member of the Green Party. The special election was 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 have served through 2015 without facing voters only if her assumption of the position had begun no more than seventy-four days before the general election.
Meanwhile, Sciaraffa continues to face his own mounting 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 Davila, admitted to contact but claimed the relations were consensual. Since that time there was little court movement in the case. County auditor Leo Flores said that taxpayers have funded nearly $90,000 to defend Sciaraffa in the Davila lawsuit. The fees were paid to the San Antonio firm Goode, Casseb, Jones, Riklin, Cholate & Watson. Additional amounts beyond the $90,000 are deferred to the county's insurer, Flores said.
On September 23, 2014, Judge Diana Saldaña of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas threw out one of the claims against Sciaraffa but permitted the other to go to trial. Saldaña said that she found no proof that Sara Jo Davila sustained alleged tangible employment actions because of her rejection of Sciaraffa's sexual advances. However, she said Webb County may have failed to take needed precautions to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. The judge said that she needs additional detailed information from Davila before she can rule on alleged acts of retaliation by Sciaraffa.
On January 26, 2015, Montemayor was sentenced to seventy-six months in prison and fined $109,000. Taken into immediate custody upon sentencing, he said that he was "embarrassed by my actions and have been humiliated." He further apologized to the city and county "for going against everything I promised I would do." U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo also ordered Montemayor to undergo treatment for alcohol/drug abuse and to participate in a mental health program.
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 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., is an uncle of incoming Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina, under whom she will serve beginning on January 1, 2015.
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 was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Laredo, having been defeated by Pete Saenz. Galo is a former two-term member of the Laredo City Council and an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in the 2006 election; he was defeated by Raúl González Salinas, Saenz's predecessor. In 2014, Salinas lost a bid for Webb County treasurer against the three-term incumbent Delia Perales. Salinas was succeeded on November 12, 2014 as mayor by Pete Saenz, a former member and president of the trustees of Laredo Community College.
Galo filed a complaint with the Webb County district attorney, made public in 2015, in which he accuses his fellow Democrat, county Auditor Leo Flores, of being an emotional and physical threat and liability to the county. Galo alleges that Flores verbally threatened him in September 2014 regarding pay increases approved for Flores's departmental employees but not Flores himself. Galo said that Flores has withheld checks owed election workers. "I think it's time for him [Flores] to go. He continues to do things contrary to the law. ..." Flores said that Galo resents the authority that Flores exercises through the power of his office as auditor.
Precinct 4, Jaime Alberto Canales (born c. 1967), was first elected in 2010. A former science educator and school principal, 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). In the March 4 primary election, Canales garnered 46 percent; Valdez, 30 percent.
Justice of the Peace Ricardo Rangel
Ricardo Rangel (born 1966) was from 2002 to 2014 the justice of the peace for Precinct 2, Place 2. He won the March 4 Democratic primary for a fourth term. On September 4, 2014, Rangel pleaded guilty to an extortion charge before United States District Court Judge Diana Saldaña. He has since entered an alcohol rehabilitation unit in Houston. Judge Saldaña noted that Rangel has had previous alcohol-related issues and called him a "functioning alcoholic". He is not allowed to consume liquor while he awaits sentencing.
In 1999, Rangel was arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of public intoxication. In 2007, he faced a second DWI charge but was not prosecuted after then Webb County District Attorney Joe Rubio, Jr., allowed him to complete a pre-trial diversion program.
The U.S. attorney's office claims that Rangel accepted $250 from a bail bondsman in March 2012 in exchange for setting a surety bond at $1,000. He faces up to twenty years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Rangel was suspended without pay on September 9 by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. On September 19, 2014, Rangel submitted his letter of resignation to the Webb County Commissioners Court, which will appoint a temporary JP. Rangel expressed regret that he had "broken my constituents' hearts. For that I am sorry , and I apologize, and I will serve my time for that. I sincerely ask forgiveness of my constituents and would like to express my gratitude for the wonderful twelve years they have given me."
Webb County is overwhelmingly Democratic and has voted for that party's electors since 1916 (the last Republican being incumbent President William Howard Taft in 1912). Although Texas as a whole voted for Republican nominee 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 the retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Because of the heavy Democrat allegiance in Webb County, Republicans virtually never 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. Webb County elections administrator Carlos Villarreal reported a 24 percent turnout in the November 4, 2014 general election in Webb County. County officials have requested that Villarreal develop a plan to increase turnout for 2016. County Democrat Chairman Alberto Torres, Jr., suggested improvements in the election division website with clear maps of voter boundaries. Torres said that such better services might motivate persons to vote regularly.
Three school districts serve Webb County:
- Laredo Independent School District
- United Independent School District
- Webb Consolidated Independent School District
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 City High School closed. 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.
Source: Webb County Planning and Physical Development Department
Map of Webb and Encinal counties in 1895
Entrance to the William N. "Billy" Hall Administrative Building annex of the Webb County Courthouse in Laredo
- List of museums in South Texas
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Webb County, Texas
- Webb County Courthouse
- "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Find A Grave, James Webb
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- "Texas Almanac: County Population History 1850-2010" (PDF). Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
- Zach Lindsey, "Webb County Judge: Valdez emerges victorious, Laredo Morning Times, April 14, 2010, p. 1
- "Final primary election results released". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- "Judge picks teacher: Linda Ramirez named temp. Pct.1 commissioner, Laredo Morning Times, May 3, 2014, p. 1
- "New Precinct 1 team: Sciaraffa wants Cavazos Ramirez as aide", Laredo Morning Times, November 24, 2014, p. 1
- Philip Balli. "Commissioner Mike Montemayor pleads guilty to bribery". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- Cesar G. Rodriguez, "Montemayor busted: Accused of soliciting and accepting bribes", Laredo Morning Times, March 20, 2014, pp. 1, 8A
- 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
- "Aldo Amato, County resident to petition for commissioner's resignation, March 24, 2014". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- "Suspension hearing date, judge set", Laredo Morning Times, April 10, 2014, p. 1
- "Temporary suspension: Montemayor to step aside once appointee named," Laredo Morning Times, April 11, 2014, pp. 1, 16A
- "Webb County Commissioner Mike Montemayor: More Accusations: New claims linked to bribery charges, [say] prosecutors", Laredo Morning Times, April 27, 2014, pp. 1, 9A
- Louis San Miguel, "Dems choose Sciaraffa as candidate: He could regain his commissioners seat", Laredo Morning Times, August 5, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
- Philip Balli, "New Commissioner: Official: Special election on Election Day for new rep:, Laredo Morning Times, July 14, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
- Aldo Amato, "Legal fees adding up: Sexual harassment lawsuit costs taxpayers big bucks", Laredo Morning Times, August 24, 2014, p. 1
- Aldo Amato, "Sexual harassment lawsuit: Judge drops 1 claim: Second may proceed to trial", Laredo Morning Times, September 25, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
- Philip Balli, "76 months in prison: Mike Montemayor must also pay a $109K fine", Laredo Morning Times, January 27, 2015, pp. 1, 12A
- "Biographical History". webbcountytx.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Laredo Morning Times, June 18, 2006, p. 1
- Kendra Ablaza and Gabriela A. Treviño, "Complaint with DA: Galo says county auditor is 'liability to Webb County'", Laredo Morning Times, April 20, 2015, pp. 1, 12A
- "Jaime Canales". webbcountytx.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Phillip Balli, "Jaime Canales wins Pct. 4 runoff," Laredo Morning Times, May 28, 2014, p. 1
- "Early voting begins today in runoffs,", Laredo Morning Times, May 19, 2014, p. 1
- Aldo Amato, "Getting help: Former JP Rangel is in alcohol rehab", Laredo Morning Times, September 9, 2014, pp. 1, 10A
- Aldo Amato, "State agency suspends Rangel: JP barred from practicing as a judge", Laredo Morning Times, September 12, 2014, p. 1
- Aldo Amato, "Precinct 2 vacancy: Rangel submits letter of resignation", Laredo Morning Times, September 20, 2014, pp. 1, 7A
- "2014 Democratic and Republican Party Primary Election Returns for Webb County". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Kendra Ablaza, "Elections office revamp", Laredo Morning Times, March 27, 2015, pp. 1, 11A
- Mirando City, Texas from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Bogan, Jesse. "A school district counts its final days." San Antonio Express-News. May 9, 2005. 01A. Retrieved on April 11, 2009.
- Webb County Planning and Physical Development Department Geographic Information Systems
- 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.
- Webb County government's website
- Webb County in Handbook of Texas Online at the University of Texas
- Webb County Heritage Foundation