By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
All five of Tucumcari’s city commissioners may be facing recall elections if petitions that have been turned in at City Hall or are now being circulated succeed.
New recall petitions have been declared eligible to be circulated in districts represented by Tucumcari City Commissioners Ernest Dominguez, District 3; Robert Lumpkin, District 4; and Mayor Amiel Curnutt, District 5, according to city clerk Angelica Gray.
In addition, a report that Gray posted in city hall says there are enough valid signatures on petitions seeking recall of Tucumcari city commissioners Dora Salinas-McTigue, District 1, and Jimmy Sandoval, District 2, to require a special election to determine whether they should retain their commission seats.
Commissioners in Districts 3, 4 and 5 had even-handed responses to the new petitions seeking their recall.
“People have right to their opinion,” Curnutt said, “and if people want to recall me, they have that right. I don’t like it, but if that’s what they decide, I’ll live with it. That’s the way the system works.”
Dominguez said, “We’ve got to go through with the process. We’ve got to go with what the voters want. They put us in and they can take us out.”
Lumpkin said, “Just because the petition has been pulled, it doesn’t mean people are signing it. I have faith the people of Tucumcari to make the right decision. I have no problem with people exercising their rights as citizens or voters. I would comply with any decision they make.”
Salinas-McTigue accepted the news that petitions seeking her recall had enough signatures to warrant a special election with the same equanimity.
“I don’t get bent out of shape about a recall,” she said. “I’m doing too much that’s good and positive to be worried about a recall. I’m interested in doing good for the whole community, as well as my district. If I’m recalled, I’m recalled. I would just hope that anyone who replaces me could do as good a job as I have.”
Sandoval challenged his opposition to confront him at the City Commission.
“I want to see all of the people who signed the petition against me at the next commission meeting,” he said. “I want them to ask me questions face-to-face. I want them to see that I’m not just sitting around.”
Following procedures in state statute, Gray said, she determined that there were 41 qualified signatures on the petition to recall Salinas-McTigue out of the 50 signatures presented. To require a recall election, 32 signatures would have been needed.
On the petition to recall Sandoval, there were 31 qualified signatures out of 34 presented, and 24 signatures would have been needed to require a recall election, Gray’s report said. Three signatures were purged from the petition to recall Sandoval due to “signature discrepancies.”
Nine signatures were purged from the petition to recall Salinas-McTigue, Gray’s report said. On the Salinas-McTigue petition, five signatures were purged due to signature discrepancies, two were disqualified due to the names “not registered with municipalities,” one was eliminated due an address irregularity and one signature was previously purged, according to the report.
The next step, according to statute, is that the certification of the signatures must be published and the certification “shall be recorded as part of the minutes at the next meeting of the governing body or the board of county commissioners.”
The City Commission, the governing body, must then authorize a special election to determine whether the commissioners will be removed from office, according to statute. The next City Commission meeting will be held Nov. 14.
Based on costs associated with elections in recent years, City Finance Director Dennis Dysart estimated that the cost of another election would be in the neighborhood of $6,000.