MCC board members sworn in
January 12, 2022
In a special meeting last week, members of the Mesalands Community College board of trustees who won re-election took the oath of office for another six years.
However, one apparent newcomer to the board wasn’t sworn in. Robin Alden, an unopposed write-in candidate for the college’s District 5 who earned six votes, wasn’t allowed to take office due to a lack of votes as required in the state’s election law. A Mesalands nepotism policy also would have prevented her from serving.
Quay County Clerk Ellen White said she learned in mid-December after the state canvass of the November election results that Alden would be barred from serving on the Mesalands board because she didn’t draw enough write-in votes.
New Mexico’s revamped election law of 2018 requires an unopposed write-in candidate to gain 10% of the votes cast in their respective district. Alden missed that threshold by two votes of 79 cast in Mesalands’ District 5, White said.
Alden wasn’t the only unopposed write-in in the area who failed to qualify. Janet Gladu, superintendent of San Jon Municipal Schools, filed as a write-in for an open position on the San Jon village board. Her three votes missed qualifying by one of 32 cast in the village’s district.
Alden and Gladu filed as a write-in candidates last summer after no one stepped up to run for those seats during the regular election filing period.
Mesalands’ previous District 5 seat-holder, Liz Estrada, did not run for re-election.
The Mesalands and San Jon boards can appoint someone to fill those seats during future meetings.
White said whoever is appointed to the Mesalands board would have only a two-year term.
Alden, a special education director at House Municipal Schools, said she wouldn’t pursue an appointment for the seat during the board’s next meeting later this month.
“I also found out after the fact that they have a nepotism policy that doesn’t allow me to be on the board because my sister is the director of the Dinosaur Museum,” Alden stated in an email, referring to Loni Monahan.
Mesalands board Chairman Jim Streetman said he would talk with fellow board members about possible candidates to fill the seat during their next meeting Jan. 18.
“I want everyone to have a say in this,” he said Wednesday during a phone interview.
He said it was unlikely the board would appoint someone at that time. Streetman anticipated that could happen at the board’s next meeting in February or during a special meeting.
Otherwise, Mesalands’ Jan. 4 special meeting to swear in re-elected board members proved uneventful and lasted only about 10 minutes. The meeting was held by videoconference, as it has been since spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
White read a swearing-in statement individually to those board members — Streetman, Teresa Stephenson and Tom Sidwell.
With college President Gregg Busch presiding, the board re-elected Streetman as chairman, and Stephenson was elected vice chair.
Board member Jimmy Sandoval abstained from voting both times but didn’t state his reasons.
Sidwell was nominated and unanimously elected as secretary-treasurer.