By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Petitions to recall Tucumcari city commissioners Dora Salinas-McTigue, District 1, and Jimmy Sandoval, District 2, are being circulated in the commissioners’ districts by a group called A Better Unity for Tucumcari, according to group spokespersons Matthew Bednorz and Jerry Lopez.
Lopez and Bednorz said they and “five or six others” have been taking copies of the recall petition door-to-door in both districts to seek signatures. The response has been “mostly favorable” they said.
“The recall of the commissioners in district 1 and 2 (is) a coordinated effort of the citizens of those respective districts, to vote on (whether to) change or not to change,” according to a statement that Bednorz and Lopez presented. “It is now the voters’ second chance whether to decide if change is needed in those respective districts.”
To force a recall election, 32 signatures of registered voters will be needed in District 1 and 24 in District 2, according to City Clerk Angelica Gray. That number, she said, is based on New Mexico law. According to statute, in a commission-manager municipality like Tucumcari, a recall election is authorized if petitions are presented signed by a number of registered voters equivalent to 20 percent of the average number of votes cast in the previous four regular municipal elections, or more than 20 percent of the number of voters who voted at the previous municipal election, whichever is higher.
Bednorz and Lopez said they had presented signed petitions at city hall, and were told that the signatures also required dates of signing, so they were seeking signatures anew on Thursday. Gray said only that petitions had been submitted but would not say by whom, and said that there were errors that kept them from being processed.
While the commission’s decision to dismiss Doug Powers as city manager on Sept. 26 was one reason for the Better Unity group to seek a recall, there were other issues, as well, both Lopez and Bednorz said. The commission voted to reinstate Powers on Oct. 10.
Lopez mentioned the two commissioners’ opposition to granting Lodger’s Tax funding for next year’s Rockabilly on the Route event, as another reason to seek a recall.
The city’s Lodger’s Tax Advisory Board had recommended that the Rockabilly organizers be granted $5,900 for advertising expenses for next year’s event, but motions to extend any funding for Rockabilly died for lack of a second in city commission meetings on Sept. 26, and Oct. 10. The Rockabilly on the Route event drew 600 visitors to the city last summer.
Only Sandoval, McTigue or Commissioner Ernie Dominguez could have seconded the motion made by Commissioner Robert Lumpkin. Mayor Amiel Curnutt can neither make nor second motions as mayor. In discussion of the subject before the motion was made, Dominguez said he objected to funding the event because proceeds from the event had gone to interests outside of the city.
Commissioner Sandoval declined to comment on the recall petition Thursday evening. Salinas-McTigue could not be reached.