The second meeting of 2023 of the Sandoval County Board of Commissioners was light-hearted and full of laughs.
District 2 Commissioner Jay Block fired off jokes during the meeting and the occasionally heated public comments portion of the meeting was filled with positivity and even praise for the commission.
One commenter who raised the issue at the meeting two weeks ago of her mother still being registered to vote despite having died in 2011 was especially thankful.
“Thank you Sandoval County Clerk office,” she said. “My mother died Sept. 6, and two weeks ago I brought this up and if you were here you knew it; if you weren’t here I’m telling you now that she’s been dead since 2011. As of Friday, she’s no longer voting in Sandoval County. We got her obituary to prove that she really is gone and she was taken off of the rolls. She voted once in 2004 when she was registered, so it’s verified. They showed me that it was no longer active. I want to thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You’ve done something I’ve complained about for a long time.”
The meeting began with Sandoval County Finance Director Cassandra Herrera and her staff being recognized for winning the Audit Accountability Award for the second straight year.
Sandoval County Master Gardeners then gave a presentation to the board, which drew praise from several commissioners. The nonprofit program grew 40,000 pounds of produce in 2022 that was donated to food banks in Sandoval County and racked up over 11,000 hours of volunteer work.
“This is really important what you guys do,” District 5 Commissioner Joshua Jones said. “My great-grandmother gave me a plant when I was younger, and I think she thought it was important for me to learn how to grow things. However, I did kill that plant in short order. So I just want to recognize how important the work that you guys are doing and especially the volunteer hours that you guys put in. You know, I think it’s greatly appreciated, so thank you.”
The hiring of John A. Garcia as deputy county manager was approved unanimously. After Garcia rattled off his lengthy work history throughout New Mexico, including being appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as Cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of General Services and serving as tourism secretary and later economic development secretary under Gov. Gary Johnson, Block said, “I guess the only question I have for you, is a real simple one, and depends on my vote. Is what’s your favorite county in the state of New Mexico?”
Garcia replied, “Mr. Commissioner today it’s Sandoval County.”
The meeting got emotional as Block gave roughly $35,000 to Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding Inc. to fix two roofs at the facility. Loving Thunder founders Twuana and Mike Raupp were asking the commission to serve as fiscal agents to seek funding for roof repairs from the New Mexico State Legislature at the meeting and were overcome with joy about Block’s assistance.
“Thank you, that was way more than we came expecting or hoping,” Mike Raupp said.