Calm Sunland Park Council Meeting Gives Residents Hope For Change

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 11:35pm

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. -- A rare instance of order in Sunland Park's regularly scheduled council meeting Wednesday evening where the city fired three city employees.

Council quickly went through procedural items on the agenda and headed for closed session to discuss the termination of city employees.

After an hour, they returned and voted in favor of firing Finance Director Helen Gonzalez, payroll employee Tracy Montes and City Clerk Elizabeth Gamez.

The only councilor who opposed the firings was Carmen Rodriguez.

Not discussed in the meeting was the appointment of a new mayor, even with Javier Perea and Gerardo Hernandez both present.

At one point Perea was sworn in after a special meeting, and Gerardo Hernandez, the runner up in the past election, argues the vacant seat should be his.

Mayor Pro Tem Isabel Santos said they are holding off on a mayoral appointment for the time being.

"We decided to postpone this item because we need more legal advice," Santos said.

During the meeting, Councilor Diaz asked the Department of Finance Administration if it is possible to find money in the city budget for a special mayoral election.

The state said if that's a priority, they can find the money. Santos said they are looking to hold a special election in September.

"It's very important for the voters to decide who represents them," Santos said.

Sunland Park resident Irma Muñoz said she would be in favor of a special election, but wants the city to make sure funding to other departments won't be affected.

"I don't know what the budget looks like and what other projects they might have ahead that might take priority," Muñoz said.

She said with the state's guidance, the city is headed in the right direction and she said she went home with a good feeling after Wednesday's meeting.

"I leave with enthusiasm, let's go city," Muñoz said. "Let's go forward."



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