Recall process could change
The rules in Raton, Tucumcari are lax, says Rep. Dennis Roch.
December 14, 2016 | View PDF
In the upcoming session of the New Mexico legislature, Rep. Dennis Roch will push for an amendment to the statute that governs the election recall process for manager/commission forms of government.
Roch said the change to the law would affect the manager/commission-type of government like those seen in the city commissions in Tucumcari, Raton and Clayton. He said in that form of government, the rules to recall a commissioner are lax.
Roch said under state statute 3-14-16, a commissioner could be recalled for simply not being liked. He said someone might not like a decision made by a commissioner and start a petition to have them recalled. There could be no issue of wrongdoing, but if they get 20 percent of the voters in the last election to sign the petition, they are granted a recall election.
“A recall election could cost the city between $6,000 and $11,000,” said Jared Langenegger, Tucumcari city manager.
The last recall election took place was on Jan. 2, 2014, and cost approximately $6,000 to $6,500, said Angelica Gray, city clerk.
Gray said the special election was for the recall of Jimmy Sandoval, the District 2 commissioner, and Dora Salinas McTigue, the District 1 commissioner. She said Sandoval was recalled and McTigue kept her commission seat.
Gray said after a recall election, the commission has two options to fill the vacant commission seat. She said the commission can appoint a new commissioner, or if they can not agree on who to appoint, another election is held to fill the position. The commission appointed Amy Gutierrez on Feb. 27, 2014, in place of Sandoval, Gray added.
Langenegger said along with the cost of holding a recall election, there are several issues that affect the city and the commission. He said a recall could divide the commission and disrupt the operations of the city.
“Instead of focusing on passing an ordinance that helps to move the city forward, the commissioners are worried about being recalled,” Langenegger said.
Langenegger said a recall election also affects the duties of the city clerk, who now has to focus on the recall election instead of working on bids and contracts, requests for proposals and purchases.
“I’m going to try to change that law to be more like the recall rules followed by Albuquerque and Santa Fe city commissions,” Roch said.
Roch said in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, in order for a recall to occur, the petition for the recall is reviewed by a judge. He said if the judge finds that there is an issue or evidence of malfeasance by the commissioner, they will approve a recall.
“There has to be an actual instance of malfeasance,” Roch said. “The recall is not granted simply because someone does not agree with the commissioner or the way they voted on an ordinance.”
Roch said this issue was brought to his attention by several communities in his district, including Tucumcari. He said the main goal is to prevent city governments from having to pay for a recall election that is not warranted.