Taos County Commission Chair-man Dan Barrone says he is moving to town to run for mayor in municipal elections next March. Barrone will face incumbent Darren Córdova, who confirmed this week he will seek reelection.
Current town council member Fred Peralta — himself a former mayor — says he’s also considering entering the mayoral race.
Barrone’s announcement comes after months of acrimony between the town and county governments, including debate over emergency dispatch and ongoing litigation related to a controversial annexation. Both Barrone and Córdova insist the upcoming campaign will not derail efforts to find compromise on prickly issues that remain unresolved.
Barrone said he’s running to “give voters a choice,” while Córdova said he would like to see several town projects through to completion.
Barrone represents District I on the county commission, which includes the town of Taos and the Las Colonias area. He must be registered to vote in the town to run for mayor.
Voter registration records show that, since at least 2003, Barrone claimed a primary residence in Lower Las Colonias. Barrone changed the address of his residence Sept. 5 to a house he owns in town, which is also in District I. Barrone said he plans to move into town by December.
Barrone was first elected county commissioner in 2006 and won reelection in 2010. He will term out at the end of 2014. He said he has not decided if he would resign his seat on the commission if elected mayor.
“I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it,” Barrone said, adding that it might be “beneficial” to hold both positions.
The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office said there is nothing in the state election code that would prevent Barrone from sitting on the commission and being mayor concurrently.
If Barrone did resign, the state constitution stipulates that the governor would appoint someone to serve out the remainder of his term.
Two town council positions and the municipal judge position will also be up for grabs in March. Incumbent councilor Rudy Abeyta said he is “definitely running” for a third term. Fellow councilor Michael Silva said he is “probably running,” and will make a final decision within a month.
Confirmed challengers for council seats include Judi Cantú (who lost a bid for council in 2012) and Fritz Hahn.
Judge Richard Chávez said he will seek reelection next year.
All candidates are required to officially file their intent to run on a single day in January, exactly eight weeks before the March 4 election.
Barrone wouldn’t be the first town candidate to switch his address months before an election, and the question of legitimate residency has been an issue in recent town elections.
In the 2010 mayoral race, Córdova faced challenger Jeff Northrup, who was sleeping on the floor of his in-town printing business to meet the residency requirement. Northrup changed his voter registration residence to the printing shop address three months before that election.
A complaint was filed against Northrup, and the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office concluded a month after the election that sleeping at the business did not meet the residency requirement.
Northrup told The Taos News this week that he has not yet decided whether to run for mayor in the upcoming race. He is still registered to vote at the printing business address.
State law defines a residence as “that place in which his habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention to return.” The law says that a candidate can only have one residence, but it does not specify how much time he or she must spend there.
In most cases, no proof of address is required to register to vote in New Mexico.