By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
The Tucumcari City Commission heard a series of appeals Thursday’s for a special election to decide who will replace recalled Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval, representing Commission District 2.
State statute says the commission has a choice between appointing a replacement or holding a special election.
The commission has scheduled a special meeting for 3 p.m. Friday in the Commission chamber at City Hall to address the issue.
District 1 Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue, who narrowly escaped being recalled in the Jan. 2 election resulting in Sandoval’s recall, advocated for a special election in a commission workshop held before the regular meeting. Workshops are held to discuss matters but not vote on them before commission meetings. Salinas McTigue said residents from District 2 had spoken to her and were “adamant about the next commissioner not being chosen by appointment.”
Further, she said, the estimated $6,000 cost of a special election is “not much to spend “ to give voters in District 2 a voice.
Commissioner Robert Lumpkin said the question for District 2 was whether waiting for election to be held would be worth a delay in having district interests represented on the commission, since less time would be required appoint Sandoval’s replacement than to hold an election.
City Clerk Angelica Gray told the commission such a special election would have to be held before April 21, according to state statute, because it must not he held within 42 days of the June 3 primary.
During Thursday’s regular meeting, other advocates of a special election spoke up, including Marcello Valverde, who presented a petition signed by District 2 voters asking for the election.
Reading from the petition, Valverde said that because of current turmoil and “serious division” within the commission, “the residents of District 2 should decide who would best represent us. The small extra cost of this election would be a small price to pay” to assure District 2 residents make the choice, Valverde said.
Gary Montaño, a frequent critic of city administration, also spoke in favor of a special election.
“I’d like to stress that the next commissioner should be chosen by taxpayers and voters, not appointed by the City Commission,” Montaño said. Montaño also quoted Commissioner Daniel Lopez, whose death created the vacancy for the District 3 Commission seat District 3 now held by Ernest Dominguez, an appointee, as saying that replacing a commissioner should “not be a commission decision.”
Phyllis Garcia, another resident, called for a round of applause to recognize Sandoval’s service on the commission. Many in the audience applauded in response.