CENTER — A not infrequent occurrence from Center’s past, tucked away in an election ordinance, has cancelled Center’s election this April and allowed the automatic appointment of four familiar faces to trustee positions.
Four positions on the board were open, replacing seats held by Mary McClure, Adeline Sanchez, Pedro Segura and Geraldine Martinez. The town announced the four openings in its Dec. 2 newsletter and in the legal section of the Valley Courier, but announced no date in the December or January newsletter when acceptance of candidate filings would end.
Four other potential candidates went to town hall to submit their affidavits in early February but were told the deadline for receiving applications already had expired.
Mary McClure and Sanchez submitted affidavits of intent to run for re-election and two seats were left to fill. Former municipal judge James Sanchez submitted his affidavit for one and former town clerk Bill McClure submitted his for the other. Sanchez will serve for two years and the others for four each.
All four will be seated April 10. The full board will then consist of Mayor Herman Sisneros, Adeline Sanchez, Mary McClure, Archie Gallegos, Bill McClure, James Sanchez and Jaime Hurtado. Sanchez recently lost his bid for school board director with Center Schools.
Since 2008, elections in Center have been contentious and not lacking in candidates. The recall election process in 2012-2013 and the resultant lawsuits and heated meetings soured many on the process, however, and interest seems to have once again waned.
With the exception of Gallegos and Hurtado, all those now serving on the board have served before over the years. Many in the town feel that the failure to properly advertise the positions can account for the cancelled election, but feel it is useless to “fight town hall.” Efforts to push for change in the past have not been successful, they say.
The appointment of the four candidates by default springs from a municipal elections statute that reads as follows:
31-10-507. Election may be cancelled - when.
In any ordinance adopted by the governing body of the municipality requiring an affidavit of intent for write-in candidates as provided in section 31-10-306, the governing body may also provide that, if the only matter before the voters is the election of persons to office and if, at the close of business on the sixty-fourth day before the election, there are not more candidates than offices to be filled at such election, including candidates filing affidavits of intent, the clerk, if instructed by resolution of the governing body either before or after such date, shall cancel the election and by resolution declare the candidates elected.
“If so provided by ordinance, upon such declaration the candidates shall be deemed elected. Notice of such cancellation shall be published, if possible, in order to inform the electors of the municipality, and notice of such cancellation shall be posted at each polling place and in not less than one other public place.
The board voted to cancel the election at their Feb. 13 meeting and declare those who filed elected.