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City seeking applicants for three commission seats

The Raton Range of Raton, New Mexico

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Current commissioners hope to make appointments in early January

Ratonians interested in serving on the city commission have two weeks to get their names on the list of hopefuls the two current commissioners will consider as they try to appoint people to fill three vacant seats.

Commissioners Sandy Mantz and Charles Starkovich on Tuesday met and agreed on an application form that potential appointees must fill out. The commissioners also set a Dec. 23 deadline — at 5 p.m. that day — for applications to be turned in to the city clerk's office. The city plans to advertise a legal notice, about accepting applications, in the next three issues of The Range, beginning Friday.

The commission seats for Districts 3,4 and 5 have been vacant since the Sept. 14 recall election that ousted Mayor Jesse Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Henry and Commissioner Joe Apache from the five-seat commission.

A district judge last month ordered Mantz and Starkovich to proceed with the appointment process. The order came in response to an Oct. 12 court petition sfrom Lorenzo Flores, an unsuccessful commission candidate in March who wants to seek one of the appointments. City officials had earlier planned to hold a special election in January to fill the vacant commission seats, but put those plans on hold after Flores' court action was filed.

Applicants — who must be registered voters within the city limits — can obtain an application form from the city clerk's office or on the city's website (www.ratonnm.gov). Each application says it must be accompanied by "proof you live full-time within the municipal boundaries" of Raton. The city's website notes an affidavit of voter registration is required with each application.

Mantz and Starkovich said they hope to hold a meeting in early January to make the appointments. In the meantime, they plan to review the applications that are submitted and perhaps talk directly to the applicants, Mantz said.

Those appointed will serve until the next scheduled regular municipal election in March 2012, unless the city commission decides to call for a special election regarding the three seats. In the latter case, the appointees to those seats would serve until the special election. The judge ruled the city commission could decide to hold a special election for the seats, but must first fill them by appointment.

In addition to the basics of education and work history, the application asks each person wanting to be considered for appointment to list his or her goals for the city. It also asks for an explanation as to "why you wish to be a city commissioner" and to talk about the "qualifications that may help you be a responsible commissioner."

Mantz said she hopes regular commission meetings, with a full commission, will be able to resume in January. She said she and Starkovich would like to have workshops this Tuesday and Dec. 28 to discuss city business, without taking action, but have not yet finalized whether such meetings will take place.

Tuesday's meeting of Mantz and Starkovich was the first time the commission has met since Sept. 13, the day before the recall. Prior to the court order being finalized last month, city officials had declined to call any sort of meeting of the remaining two commissioners, with the city attorney expressing concerns about a meeting of just two commissioners — less than a legal quorum of three — potentially violating the state's Open Meetings Act.

Flores' petition argued — and the judge agreed — that state law requires the two remaining commissioners to make appointments to fill the vacant seats.

The last time the city sought applications from those interested in being considered for appointment to the commission was this past summer as the commission worked to fill the District 2 seat that became vacant with the resignation of Tresa Kagan. In late July, Starkovich was selected from among nine applicants to fill the seat.

As of noon Thursday, Deputy City Clerk Geneva Trujillo said, a few people had picked up applications from her office, but no one had yet turned in a completed application. She said she did not know the names of those who picked up applications, or if they had picked them up for themselves or others.



Copyright 2010 The Raton Range, Raton, New Mexico. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: December 10, 2010



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