The death of Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo leaves a huge void at the center of local government, and marks the departure or an elected official who truly did put the people first, friends and co-workers tell News Radio 1200 WOAI.
County Judge Nelson Wolff, who has served on Commissioners Court with Elizondo for 18 years, said the list of his accomplishments was almost too long to mention.
"We completed the Mission Reach of the River, got the World Heritage designation for the Missions, completed the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts," he said.
But there are two areas where Elizondo, who died Thursday at the age of 83, just six weeks after being elected to his ninth term on Commissioners Court, will be best remembered, and those are flood control and health care.
In the early 1980s, when Elizondo joined Commissioners Court after a stint in the Texas Legislature, much of the low income west side area that he represented was devastated by the regular floods which hit the area, due to a lack of drainage.
Elizondo spearheaded the first full scale drainage projects in the area, pushing for full funding for drainage and creek projects on the west side which have diminished the danger which people felt every time heavy rains arrived.
And the other area where Elizondo's legacy is large is in health care.
Dan Barrett, who heads the Center for Health Care Services, says Elizondo really was the 'champion of the little guy.'
"The formation of the Paul Elizondo Inner City Clinic, serves an additional 10,000 adults," he said. "In Bexar County you have in excess of 400,000 diabetics, but it was him who turned a failed hospital into a world class diabetic center."
Elizondo was also the driving force behind two of the biggest health care improvement projects in the last five years, the vast expansion of the Robert B. Green Hospital downtown, and the major Sky Tower addition to University Hospital in the Medical Center.
But Wolff remembers Elizondo, who was a U.S. Marine and music teacher in Edgewood and San Antonio ISD's for thirty years, as a man who loved music, and he recalls his massive record collection.
"We would go on bond trips to New York, and in the evening hours, he would like to be in the jazz clubs," Wolff recalled.
For decades, Elizondo played saxophone and led a jazz band which frequently played at wedding receptions and other events.
The newly completed addition to the Bexar County Justice Center is named the Paul Elizondo Tower in his honor.
Wolff will now select a successor to Elizondo, who will serve until the 2020 election. At that point, an election will be held to serve out the remaining two years of the ninth four year term that Elizondo won last month.
PHOTO COURTESY: CHRISTIAN ANDERSON