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Monday, August 6, 2012 - 23:52
SUNLAND PARK, N.M. — Javier Perea has been appointed mayor of Sunland Park twice but is yet to serve in office for more than two weeks.
The 25-year-old Sunland Park native was appointed and sworn in as mayor for the second time this year after he resigned the position in April when the State of New Mexico said there were Open Meetings Act violations the day he was appointed.
"I was going to stick with it until the City of Sunland Park had a mayor that they could actually listen to or go to when it comes to their problems," said Mayor Javier Perea in his new office.
Perea said he's the one for the job and understands how difficult a task he has before him.
"We are looking at fixing a problem that has existed for a series of years and it's not going to change overnight," Perea said.
Perea admitted there is a loss of faith in the city's government and restoring the people's trust is a top priority.
"The biggest thing we need to focus is transparency in our government," Perea said. "We need to re-establish the lines of communication with our elected officials, the administration here and the people."
He said with cuts throughout the city, people are not going to be fully onboard with the changes.
On Monday, his first full day in office, he had to fire 12 people.
"It's very, very difficult," Perea said.
When he was first appointed mayor in April, Perea said it was different due to a budget not being in place yet.
Since April, council has raised property taxes in a city where a large percentage of the population already lives below the poverty line.
Perea said he hopes to bring those taxes down in the next couple of years and reduce the burden on taxpayers.
He knows there will be long days ahead of him but said he will be in the office Monday through Friday getting the city back on track.
"If I thought maybe I wasn't going to be able to hack it I would have not made myself available for this position," Perea said.