LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We are always a little skeptical when we receive information about a candidate during election time, but when that information leads us to problems for nearly half the candidates on the ballet, we take a closer look.
We discovered four Lubbock City Council Candidates with delinquent taxes. Now we ask the candidates to explain why they owed this money.
Our investigation began with an anonymous package sent to the KCBD studios. It followed an announcement by Victor Hernandez that he would seek the District 1 city council seat.
Inside the package were property tax records from the Lubbock Central Appraisal District (LCAD), indicating that Mr. Hernandez was late on part of his 2009 taxes. We checked with the appraisal district ourselves, to make sure the records were accurate, and found that they were.
That led us to check the records for each person running for city council. In addition to Hernandez, we found three other candidates with late taxes, some going back for years. "We own a number of properties here in town; they're all paid up with the exception of this building. It's my office building downtown, and so we normally enter into an agreement with the LCAD and pay that on a monthly basis," Hernandez said.
Under that agreement, Hernandez does pay extra for penalties and interest. As of Monday, he owed $5,900. "We are like a lot of families within the city; they're having trouble making ends meet. They do the best they can. We've never not paid our taxes, and is there a premium attached to that, yes, but we pay those as well," Hernandez said.
District 1 candidate Glen Robertson also owed on a piece of property near 82nd Street and the Tahoka Highway. When contacted by KCBD, Robertson sent us a statement explaining that he sold land to Stripes convenience stores in 2008, but the surveyor accidentally left a strip of property off the survey. Ownership of that piece of property is still in question.
Robertson says he pays his taxes on time, and called this an unusual and isolated case. He did pay the $106 tax on this property though, because he did not want it to be an issue in his campaign.
District 1 candidate Rafael Gutierrez did not return our call for comment, but public records show he owes three years worth of taxes on a property downtown. As of Monday, his bill was about $153.
Mayoral candidate Roger Settler also did not return our call for comment. Public records show he owes four years worth of taxes on a home in central Lubbock. As of Monday his bill was almost $1,100.
We did check on the rest of the candidates. None of them owed money at the time early voting started, but both candidates for city council District 5, Karen Gibson and Stephan Lampman, had paid late fees in the past.
The rest of those running did not owe, had not been late, or did not own property in Lubbock County.
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