By Kathleen Sloan
The Truth or Consequences City Commission votes split between the old- and new-guard on the business of appointing a new mayor. The new and old met for the first time, becoming a body after a swearing-in ceremony held Tuesday, March 13.
At one point you could have heard a pin drop. That moment was right after old-guard Truth or Consequences City Commissioner Freddie Torres nominated successful incumbent Steve Green for Mayor. In that yawning silence, nothing stirred, until Green seconded his own nomination.
Then, new Commissioner Jeff Richter nominated new Commissioner John Mulcahy, quickly seconded by new Commissioner Sandra Whitehead.
Green’s nomination was put to a vote, and Torres and Green voted aye. The opposing votes were not voiced, but Mulcahy, Richter and Whitehead raised their hands. At that point, City Attorney Jay Rubin asked that the vote be spoken, to “get it in the record.”
Green asked for discussion. He said, “I don’t think Mr. Mulcahy has the experience yet to do the job the community expects.” Green also factored in time Mulcahy must give to his fulltime job, while he has none. Green said he has been “a commissioner for four years and served the community for 12.”
Green said, “I’ve done it (served), and I think I’ve done it admirably well.” He asked his fellow commissioners to “take a big minute,” and cautioned them that the nomination “is not about friendship.”
Green also noted that none of the other candidates received 808 votes, which he took as an indication that he is the community’s favorite.
Mulcahy responded, agreeing that Green has done a good job. “But one of the reasons I ran was to bring change. We will run this city by the rules, accurately and transparently. It’s a new day. I will bring acumen and business sense to the job,” said Mulcahy.
Green said, “I don’t want to get into a rebuttal, but I would have you note that the gavel was not in my hands.”
Then commissioners voted on Mulcahy’s nomination, which passed with Richter, Whitehead and Mulcahy voting aye with hands raised.
Truth or Consequences has a commissioner/manager form of government. Unlike a mayor/council form of government, the mayor’s position is not much different from fellow commissioners, except for ceremonial aspects. The mayor runs the meeting, signs ordinances, resolutions and contracts, but the mayor’s vote has equal weight with fellow commissioners. Only as a quorum can, in the commission/manager form of government, make a decision. This form of government gives more power to the people, requiring ordinances and resolutions be the legal instruments “effecting or discharging powers conferred by law,” as stated in State Statute 3-17-1. Ordinances require publication two weeks before a public hearing on the issue. The ordinance passed is supposed to reflect the public will and input.
In a mayor/council form of government, the mayor abstains from voting and only does so as a tiebreaker. In a mayor/council form of government, the mayor has more duties in the day-to-day operations of the city and can make some executive decisions solo.
The city commission then turned to the matter of the mayor pro-tem appointment. Richter appointed Sandra Whitehead, which was quickly seconded by Green. No other nominations were given. The commission voted unanimously on her appointment.