March 19, 2015

Supreme Court says no to forcing emergency meetings to replace Griego

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The state Supreme Court ruled against those who wanted to speed up the process of filling the vacancy in Senate District 39.

Senator Phil Griego's desk on March 14, 2015 after his resignation. Photo credit: Andy Lyman

Senator Phil Griego’s desk on March 14, 2015 after his resignation.
Photo credit: Andy Lyman

Republicans in the state had been pushing for a quick replacement, saying that time was of the essence in the final hectic days of the legislative session.

Three petitioners, two Republicans and a Democrat, who live in the district said that they are disenfranchised because they have no representation in the Senate and asked the high court to speed up the process.

The petition had asked that the court either compel the county commissions to hold emergency meetings or for the court to allow Gov. Susana Martinez to make a selection from the commissions that already made a choice.

In districts that represent multiple counties, or at least portions of multiple counties, each county commission chooses a nominee. The governor then chooses a replacement from that list. Martinez had asked county commissions to hold emergency meetings, which would waive the portion of the Open Meetings Act that requires 72-hour notice for all meetings.

Martinez is widely expected to choose a Republican to replace Griego, a Democrat, narrowing the advantage to 24-18 for Democrats in the Senate.

Two counties complied, Torrance and Lincoln Counties.

A lawsuit filed in state District Court earlier this week sought to stop the governor from making a pick until each of the counties had

The vacancy came when Phil Griego resigned from the Senate for violating the state constitution when he benefited from a real estate deal made possible by legislation passed by the Senate.

The Bernalillo County Commission nominated Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics on Wednesday. The Torrance County Commission named former Estancia mayor Ted Barela in an emergency meeting on Sunday and then confirmed the pick on Wednesday.

Lincoln County chose Lincoln County Commissioner Tom Stewart but he removed his name when he found out he could not serve as both county commissioner and state senator.

Santa Fe and Valencia counties are scheduled to name nominees in meetings on Friday. San Miguel’s county commission also has not yet named a nominee.

Supreme Court Order on Griego Replacement

Update: A previous version of this post omitted San Miguel County.

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