Fernandez still in mayoral race

Case questioning candidate's residency tossed by judge


Taos town councilor and mayoral contender Darien Fernandez remains in the race.

A case questioning the legitimacy of his in-town listed residence ended when  First Judicial District Judge David Thomson denied a petition filed against Town Clerk Renee Lucero, the official with whom candidates file election forms. The petition, called a Writ of Mandamus, requires an official to "perform their duty" and "correct an abuse of discretion," by finding Fernandez did not live at the address he listed on his declaration of candidacy.

Plaintiff Michael Miro filed the petition Feb. 9 against the town, saying that Taos mayoral candidate Darien Fernandez did not reside at the Taos address – 326 Montoya Street – listed on his declaration of candidacy form. A hearing in the case was held in Eighth Judicial District Court in Taos, Wednesday (Feb. 28) with Fernandez' removal from the ballot at stake in the case. The address had been challenged by community members and family alike in Taos, who said that Fernandez did not reside at the address and had no right to list the house as his residency for the campaign.

But the judge denied the petition and Fernandez will not be decertified as a candidate in the race, according to the court order.

"Now that this distraction is over, I’m focused on winning the election this Tuesday (March 6)," Fernandez said in a campaign press release. "I’m knocking on doors, making phone calls, and working hard for every vote."

Fernandez' father, David Fernandez, owns the property along with five other family co-owners. The house has been in the Fernandez family for more than 50 years and, according to family members, the children of the six owners are allowed to use the house as they please.

Town clerks must verify that the candidate's voter registration and address match on their candidacy declaration along with several other factors. According to the court order by Thomson, Fernandez' credentials made the cut and he was able to be certified by Lucero for candidacy.

Taos Mayor Dan Barrone, who is running for a second term,  also faces a legal challenge to his residency. The case, filed by town councilor Judi Cantu, who is running for reelection, is scheduled for a hearing in district court in Las Vegas after the March 6 election. 

State law regarding residency requirements for candidates is vague, leaving it open to interpretation. 


3 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
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Ciara Faber

The challenge never should've happened. Now, please publish my opinion letter in support of Darien Fernandez, which I submitted 2/17.

Sunday, March 4 | Report this
Michael Miro

The challenge should never happened because Darien Fernandez should never have lied about where he lived. It is a fact that he did not live at that address. I'm fed up with liars getting into office and people just rolling over for it.

Sunday, March 4 | Report this
Michael Miro

I do agree the challenge never should have happened, Darien Fernandez should not have falsely claimed that he lived at the Montoya address when he did not. The entire family whose names are on the deed and maintain the property testified to that in court. He now says he lives in town at his girlfriends place since December 2017. If that is so he could have used that address and avoided this whole issue. First, I must say, I am not part of some "political machine." I meet Mayor Barrone once when I was buying some wood at Olgens. It began when the family notified the clerk that Darien Fernandez did not live at the address on Montoya St. and that he did not have personal possessions there or even have a key to the property. Nothing was done to investigate their complaint. I was motivate to put my name on the petition because no one else would. Once again we just roll over when things aren't done properly and lies are just accepted. I really don't have anything against Darien Fernandez, I voted for him for council in the last election. Now I wonder what address he used to run for that office. Obviously there is a problem with representation in the Taos area and a resolution must be found for that but falsely claiming that you live in the town limits because you once stayed in a house for 2 weeks in 2006 does not establish permanent residence. For the Town Clerk when presented with contradictory information does nothing about it someone must say something. According to all the testimony of the family who owns the property it was clear that Darien Fernandez did not nor ever had lived at the address except for the two weeks he was allowed to stay there when he moved to Taos until he found his own place. I believed the only recourse was with the court, the issue needed to be adjudicated and exposed. I also agree with the Judges ruling deciding that it was too late to do something about this without disenfranchising the 200 early votes that had already come in and considering the absentee ballots which were out. Getting involved may have been foolish on my part I suppose but right or wrong I'm fed up with politicians lying to get into office and everyone just excepting it as the norm. Be sure to vote tomorrow.

Monday, March 5 | Report this