By: Sarah Snyder
ODESSA - 23 traffic violations, back taxes and no valid drivers license. The charges against Odessa City Councilman Benjamin Velasquez stacked up high creating a stir of emotions amongst city council members.
It was a series of articles that brought on a slew of controversy surrounding the District 5 Councilman, Benjamin Velasquez. On Tuesday, NewsWest 9 caught up with him to find some answers.
"23 Traffic violations over 14 years, that's less than two a year," Benjamin Velasquez, Odessa City Council, Dt. 5 said. "People get traffic tickets especially when you drive a lot. The drivers license, that was an ignorant thing on my part. I was traveling out of the state from 2000-2004. That's when my license expired and I never renewed it. It was ignorant on my part."
Councilman Royce Bodiford called for Velasquez to either resign or withdraw from the election saying he put himself above the law.
Velasquez told NewsWest 9, all 23 citations over the 14-year period have now been paid. And even after all the accusations, Velasquez is hoping to keep his District 5 seat come May 8th, but this time he has a challenger.
"I was approached by one of the other council members a few weeks before the deadline to file for running and he was asking me to run saying we need someone on the west side that could give the present Councilman Velasquez a run for his money," Dt. 5 Council Candidate, Roy Hunton, said.
But Velasquez says these charges won't impact his campaign.
"I thought if someone is going to represent us over here on the west side, you should keep on top of things and not let it come to a point where a warrant has to be issued for your arrest to pay your traffic violations," Hunton said.
Odessa Mayor Larry Melton said he can't comment until after the May 8th election but he did address a big misconception.
"There's a lot of confusion there and I'm glad you asked because most of the media has picked up the idea that he was appointed to the council and we actually called an election, we only had one candidate but there was an election," Mayor Larry Melton said. "He was elected to that post. He is an elected official, not an appointed official."