GRANTS – Moments after being sworn in as Mayor of the City of Grants, Martin “Modey” Hicks said, “For the first time since 2008, the City is in compliance with our Charter.”
Hicks has made an issue of the City Charter for nearly two years now. On Friday he was all smiles as T. Walter Jaramillo and Joseph Murrietta were no longer a part of the Council. For months, Hicks has declared in City meetings that the City was not in compliance with its own Charter because Jaramillo was a City Councilor and County Commissioner simultaneously.
And, Hicks said, both Jaramillo and former Mayor Murrietta were violating the Charter because they were running for a third term despite the fact the Charter limited elected officials to two consecutive terms.
The Charter was approved by nearly 75 percent of the voters in 2007. However, the New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled that such a limitation is unconstitutional because it exceeds a home rule municipality's authority as conferred by the New Mexico Constitution. Last year, the majority of the Council supported adding a footnote to the Charter making this clarification. Hicks voted “no” on the footnote.
In regard to last week’s election where Hicks beat Murrietta by nearly 300 votes, the new Mayor said the people “screamed” change.
“People want responsible government,” emphasized Hicks. “Little things like challenging the Charter and wasting $25,000 on a lawsuit because Jaramillo sits in two positions will catch up to you. The voters of Gants spoke.”
On Friday, Municipal Judge Elise Larsen was sworn in first, Hicks second, and Dickens and Michael Lewis followed. Larsen was uncontested for a second term. Hicks was City Councilor for District Two for the past eight years. During the election Hicks said that he would continue to focus on infrastructure, including roads, and would do away with any unnecessary spending.
When Dickens was sworn in, Magistrate Judge Larry Diaz noted that the new Councilor had just made history when he won by the flip of a coin.
Last, but not the least, was Michael Lewis. The area artist accomplished what many had thought was impossible – he beat Jaramillo in District Four. Jaramillo, appointed by former mayor Ronald Ortiz ten years ago, was uncontested during the past two elections.
During the election, through advertisements, Lewis slammed Jaramillo in a variety of ways.
“Let this election be a learning experience for future politicians in the City of Grants,” said Lewis. “If you break the rules, the residents of Grants will vote you out.”
On Friday Larsen, Hicks, Dickens, and Lewis all swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States, Constitution and laws of the State of New Mexico, and laws and Charter of the City of Grants.
Judge Diaz ended the special swear-in ceremony by saying to the candidates, “Congratulations and God bless you all.”
City Hall was packed, nearly a standing room only event, for the Oath of Office ceremony.