Taos Mayor Pascual Maestas took to Facebook Thursday evening (Jan. 26) to publish his list of candidates for the town's Home Rule Charter Commission, introducing a previously-lacking degree of transparency to his monthslong push to make Taos a home rule municipality.
Maestas faced criticism from town councilors and members of the public for not releasing the list sooner. And in response to a Jan. 11 Taos News Inspection of Public Records Act request, Maestas claimed that no such list existed.
In his Facebook post — in which he characterized the Taos News' reporting on the home rule portion of Tuesday's (Jan. 24) fractious town council meeting as "journalistic spin" — Maestas listed his handpicked candidates for the commission:
Jake Caldwell, whom Maestas described as a "former town attorney and someone I highly respect that brings municipal government and legal experience;"
Judy Torres, who as executive director of the Taos Valley Acequia Association has the "experience to ensure that agricultural lands and acequias are protected in the charter;"
Chenoa Velarde, who, in addition to being student success specialist and student government staff advisor at UNM-Taos, is also a "Taos Pueblo tribal member who will incorporate youth perspective and bring forth ideas that encourage partnership and collaboration between the town and Taos Pueblo;"
Mary Lane Leslie, "a local attorney with an interest in home rule and state level connections to ensure a strong charter;"
Wanda Lucero, "a respected community business owner with government experience as a former school board member;"
Victoria Santistevan, "a community educator and proponent of workforce training and skill development who will bring a perspective of economic development and diversification;"
Vince Bowers, an "attorney, rancher, and farmer with interest in and knowledge of home rule."
As an "alternate," Maestas chose Luis Reyes, longtime CEO of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, "and [a] generational Taoseño with decades of working with multiple municipal, state, and federal governments and agencies."
In addition to Reyes, who submitted a letter of interest on Jan. 25, several other applications have been submitted by members of the public interested in serving on a home rule charter commission. The town's records custodian provided several records on Friday (Jan. 27), including a Jan. 23 letter of interest from Lynda Perry, who said her application was "in response to the home rule advertisement in the Taos News."
Additionally, Ken Manning sent an email to Maestas on Jan. 23, stating: "It goes without saying that I would be interested in serving on the charter commission."
The town is accepting letters of interest from those interested in serving on the commission until Feb. 9.
For more on this story see the Feb. 2 edition of the Taos News.
There have been numerous editorials and articles on what Home Rule is about, so I am a bit confused by folks saying that they are in the dark about it. Maybe TN can republish some of these. The role of the Home Rule Commission will be to suggest how it will work for Taos, and I think we can assume that the product of their work will be analyzed and voted upon, first by the Town Council, and eventually, by voters in Taos. This, because there has been discussion over the cost to print the entire charter in the TN. What is abhorrent is that this entire process is starting out with distrust, as the Mayor refused to share the list with the names of folks for the committee, how he got his list, or even wait until individuals in the public had a chance to express their interesting in participating. For the mayor to resort to Facebook, his personal page, not even a dedicated Mayoral page, and accuse the TN of putting 'spin' on a clear issue, and trying to divide the public, is rather ripe. No bueno.
I think that the first thing to do is to educate the public on exactly what home rule is and exactly why you want it. What is the best case and worst case scenario of the changes that home rule would bring within the city limits of Taos.
Is it true, for instance, that home rule would allow people living outside the city limits of Taos to decide what happens within the city limits of Taos?
Would home rule dilute the say that people living inside the city limits of Taos have over their city?
I don't know the answer to these questions, but I want to know.
I would bet that I'm not the only one wondering what home rule is all about.
Someone needs to inform the public BEFORE you go forward with home rule.
I agree with this sentiment completely. It is imperative that the public be educated on what Home Rule actually means both positive and negative, beofre noat after a vote!
I have to agree with this sentiment. IIt is imperative the public is educated about what "Home Rule" is and how it will affect the community as a whole, as well as individually. This education should begin immediately while the discussion is still underway. - Kathryn Herman
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