Sunland Park mayoral election will have to wait until 2016

Monday, December 30, 2013 - 7:51pm

A new controversy emerges in Sunland Park, New Mexico after several disagreements between city council members and the mayor about the upcoming city elections.

Despite the council's lack of decision the upcoming elections for city representatives will be held next March although the mayoral will have to wait until 2016.

Sunland Park residents will elect 3 new city representatives but no mayor. That decision was confirmed by the New Mexico municipal league, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney General after the upcoming election become a hot topic of discussion in city hall chambers.

City Rep. Isabel Santos and Sergio Carrillo requested the mayoral position be included on this year's ballot.

"I disagree with Mayor Perea not running in next March because he was not elected by the voters he was appointed and according to the law he should run for the next elections," Rep. Santos said.

Mayor Javier Perea was appointed by city council back in 2012 when mayor-elect Daniel Salinas was arrested on corruption charges.

What Santos refers to is to a state law that says that; "Any qualified elector appointed to fill a vacancy shall serve until the next regular municipal election,"

But state authorities disagree. On Monday Mayor Perea released several emails he received from the state municipal league, the secretary of state and the city attorney.

In the legal opinion all agencies found that:

"Mayor Perea should legally serve out the remaining term of the office vacated by Mr. Salinas, and therefore is not up for election until March of 2016,"

"I know the argument councilor Santos and councilor Carrillo are making is that because Javier or the mayor is part of the governing body that it should be at this upcoming election however the argument that was also presented by the city attorney was that a more specific law trumps a general law," Perea said.

But councilor Santos was not satisfied with the response, she says voters should have a voice on who the mayor is.

"I called the secretary of state and the attorney general office and I said why because Perea was appointed not elected by the people," Santos added.

Although Mayor Perea doesn't discard participating in the 2016 election process he says his main focus is to get Sunland Park back on track.

"My goal here is to make sure we follow the rules and follow the law if the interpretation of the law was that I had to run at this election then I would've run in this election," Perea concluded.

Sunland Park is slowly recovering after the corruption scandals in recent years. The council recently hired a new city manager who will begin working next week. The municipal election will be held on March 4 of next year.


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