Handicapping Taos Politics
The comments below should not be construed as endorsements but comments on the horse race—except at the Coop, where the Primos of Perdenales are out of control. As I get more information I shall update the names and comments.
(Town of Taos) The recent election of former Mayor Fred Peralta to the town council will bring an element of stability to the irrational financial culture at the town. Councilor–elect Andrew Gonzales is an unknown. But observers predict Fred will play the wise man, distance himself from the corrupt doings, and get himself elected Mayor in 2014.
On a recent radio program Mayor Cordova explained the distinction between the appearance of “conflict of interest” and actual “conflict of interest.” He discounted his votes in favor of businesses or interests that buy advertising on DMC Broadcasting as mere appearance—suggesting voters need not be concerned with the quid pro quo or “this for that.” For instance, despite having contracts for advertising or deals with Kit Carson Electric Coop, neither Mayor Cordova nor Councilor Silva benefit, they both say, directly from town’s agreement to lease the KCEC Command Center. The two elected officials just benefit privately from the side deals.
Regardless, if a duly elected official votes to approve a deal in which he or she has direct or indirect interest, the action is unethical and constitutes a “conflict of issue” claim. Legal claims or claims by attorneys are opinions you pay for not decisions by judges. An attorney argues, a judge decides. The Mayor’s knowledge of ethics is limited to appearances: He doesn’t understand realities.
Taos needs a new mayor.
(KCEC Coop Races) The KCEC has set higher standards for self-dealing in Taos than even the Town. Contracts for trustees’ families and free wood for supporters, deals for town councilors and the Mayor himself are shamelessly promoted by the black hole at the Coop’s executive suite. Why a longtime executive secretary and notary, along with the Coop’s longtime attorney– falsified a notary statement of signature—according to news reports. CEO Reyes and his hack Steve Fuhlendorf publish laughable misrepresentations of COOP doings re: the Command Center, Broadband, and Propane in the local press.
Incumbent trustee Luisa Mylet had the courage to go public and oppose the rate increase and attempted cover-up of the raise for Reyes prior to the PRC hearings. She, like Virgil Martinez, stands up for members and employees. And she has the courage to withstand attacks by the male chauvinists at the retrograde Coop. Vote for Luisa.
Incumbent trustee Toby Martinez ran as a progressive four years ago but sold out to the Coop trustees and CEO Luis Reyes. Peter Adang, an attorney and activist, is running against Martinez with support from the activist members. Vote for Peter.
Up in Penasco Ernesto Gonzales is running hard against the Penasco political machine bossed by Mary Mascarenas, whose husband Ambrose encourages Coop crews to cut wood for supporters when he isn’t flying around the country as a “Traveling Trustee.” Vote for Ernesto.
Elect public servants, not the naughty nine—who are known as the “Primos of Perdenales.”
(Taos County) While Commissioner Andrew Chavez has done his best to self-destruct, due to foot-in-mouth disease, his chances for re-election might have improved due to vote splitting. Beverly Armijo should take votes from the challenger, ex-commissioner Gabe Romero, and the incumbent Andrew Chavez. Now Antonio Cruz, a local union leader, has thrown his hat into the ring centered in the Ranchos, Llano, and Talpa area. Gabe should be the favorite due to name recognition and crossover appeal. Antonio and Beverly are dark horses. Andrew? Quien Sabe?
Up north in the Seco, Hondo, Valdez, Upper Las Colonias area, Commission candidate Tom Blankenhorn, who lost to Commissioner Nick Jaramillo last time, was the initial favorite to beat Desmontes’ native Floyd Archuleta. But a third candidate, Pennie Wardlow, should turn this race into the category of “too close to call.” The longtime promoter of safe environments for dogs has widespread appeal. Depends how hard she, Blankenhorn, and Archuleta campaign.
The competition for County Treasurer could be fun. Lorraine Coca-Ruiz, former treasurer and legendary savior of Taos County back in 1999—2000, has the support of current treasurer Vangie Romero. Now, we hear town finance department director, Marietta Fambro, is getting run out of the town by Mayor Cordova and might challenge Coca-Ruiz. The County of Taos is a very wide and deep ocean compared to the tiny town. “Lovely Lorraine” has the edge. The Anna Martinez—Lillian Miller contest for County Clerk is too close to call.
(BTW: Check out the federal lawsuit by CRAB Hall administrators against TMS on the U.S. web site if you want to see how a nonsensical disagreement is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for nothing. TMS board members Lorraine, Arsenio, and Stella didn’t file the lawsuit!)
(Magistrate Judge) So far, the Governor has not seen fit to appoint a replacement for Judge Betty. The candidates are out gathering signatures both democrats and even some republicans. In the latter camp, County Detention Center Director Willie Cordova is favored over Appraiser Ed Adams in the primary. Among democrats, Sheriff Miguel Romero is favored over Jeff Shannon, Cindie Morphin Santistevan, and the rest, whose names I’ve forgotten. Shannon, an attorney is the most qualified, and could upset the favorite due to cross-over appeal, experience in campaigning for office, and support from the legal–judicial community.
8th Judicial District: Judge
Floyd Lopez is campaigning hard according to the buzz on the street to become one of the judges. He’s backed by Trudy Healy and being introduced door-to-door by the legendary Batman. Helen Lopez declared early and is well known, due to her even-handed leadership of the Taos County Democratic party. Currently, she’s being outhustled by the redoubtable Floyd. Everyone likes Jeff McElroy, another candidate and sometime legal eagle at the DA’s office. But, just like the magistrate’s race, Jeff’s expected to finish out of the money.
In the other judgeship, incumbent Judge Sarah Backus has a campaign organization and is getting kudos in the legal community. Tina Cruz, the Backus challenger, seems quiet, more so than Helen Lopez.
This could all change if Tina Cruz and Helen Lopez pick up the pace.
DA. Attorney Sarah Montoya is challenging DA Donald Gallegos. Montoya made John Paternoster squirm when she challenged the sitting judge four years ago. She’s an insightful campaigner as is Donald. In fact, these are the only two attorneys in any race who seem like natural politicians. The Gallegos controversies have died down, meaning Montoya will have to double down on organization and shoe leather to upset the incumbent.