Tucumcari has a mayor at least until July, but it still has no commissioner from District 3 despite three people filing for the position since the last commission meeting.
In a special meeting on Monday, the current four commissioners on the Tucumcari City Commission Christopher Maestas, Betty Ditto, Antonio Apodaca and Mary Mayfield, agreed on sitting mayor pro tem Apodaca to serve as Mayor until July 13 when a special District 3 election would be held to select a new commissioner from that district.
Apodaca said the temporary status was acceptable for him because he was worried that conflicts with his job might interfere with his ability to serve in an exemplary fashion as mayor so serving until July would be a good way to find out if he and the position matched up well or not. No solution, however, was so easily settled when it came to the appointment of an individual to take the seat vacated with the death of Mayor/Commissioner Calvin Litchfield. At the last meeting of the city commission, it was decided that the position would be advertised and a selection would be made at this meeting from the people who volunteered to serve as commissioner until the special election.
Three people had put their names in to Tucumcari City Clerk as willing to serve on the commission until the July date, Jim Witcher pastor of the First Christian Church, Paula Chacon outgoing Quay County Manager, and Ron Wilmott director of the Tucumcari Convention Center. Mayfield, Ditto and Apodaca expressed their opinions that all three individuals had excellent credentials for the position, and they were impressed that the three were willing to spend the time it took to serve on the commission.
Commissioner Mayfield then nominated Witcher to fill the vacant seat saying that she had received a number of telephone calls on his behalf from individuals in District 3.
Commissioners voted with Mayfield and Ditto voting for Witcher and Maestas and Apodaca voting against him. Thus Witcher was not chosen since he did not have a majority.
Commissioner Maestas then nominated Chacon for the position. Apodaca said he was familiar with Chacon’s work with the county and was impressed and felt she would make a good commissioner.
Once again the vote ended with a 2-2 tie. Commissioners Apodaca and Maestas voted for Chacon and Commissioners Mayfield and Ditto voted against her. So, like Witcher, Chacon was not chosen to represent the third district. The commissioners said that because of the inability to select one of the candidates, District 3 would have no commissioner until one could be chosen by the voters in July. Later in the meeting Witcher said he and Chacon had discussed it, and they were willing to let a cut of cards or a flipped coin decide which of them would serve on the commission much as Maestas was chosen when the tie vote in District 2 between Maestas and Jimmy Sandoval was broken.
“I don’t want to cast doubt on your ability to make objective decisions,” said Witcher, “but one fifth of the population of this city will be without representation on this commission until July. I just want to give them a voice.”
Mayor Apodaca said the commission had decided to go with the four commissioners until July. He pointed out they had done it before and he felt they could remain impartial.
City clerk Rachel Hicklin explained that it was necessary to have the election no sooner than four months because of conflicts with other elections and state requirements regarding campaigning time.