The Rio Rancho City Charter has been under attack for the last seven months.

The mayor and city councilors (districts 3 and 6) appointed themselves to a review committee that has historically been reserved for Rio Rancho citizens.

This concerning move, dubbed a “hybrid model” as cited by the National Civic League, directly opposes what was done, stating, “The charter process functions best, when it is rooted in citizen involvement rather than one influenced by political officials directly serving as members… While in many cases, the mayor and/or council plays a role in the appointment of members, their involvement should end at that point.”

The mayor and his council overtook this citizen review committee, in an effort push two of their agendas: the municipal judge requirements and a permanent fund. Let’s start with the judge requirements.

If an attorney wanted to run for the position, they could. If the citizens of Rio Rancho wanted to elect that person (attorney), based on that credential, they could.

As such, the change to require our city’s judge to be an attorney isn’t necessary. In comparison, U.S. Supreme Court justices aren’t required to be lawyers, or even be law-school graduates (supremecourt.gov).

The county magistrates (Sandoval County) aren’t required to be attorneys, either. Consistently, for three consecutive terms, our residents have valued life experience, choosing a decorated, retired law enforcement professional to the tune of 5,997 votes in the last election, eclipsing that of our current mayor, who only pulled in 5,105 votes.

Would an attorney who primarily practices estate planning, probate and Medicaid law be better suited than a retired lawman who served the great State of New Mexico for 25 years? The same person who has served the great City of Rio Rancho as its judge for 11 years?

I think not. It would be a disservice to the public, at an increased cost to the taxpaying public.

But if the mayor and his cronies insist that the municipal judge be required to be an attorney, then we need to look seriously at the mayor’s requirements.

If friends of the mayor argue that, “We should expect more of our elected officials, and not less,” then shouldn’t a mayor at least have a four-year degree?

Why should we, the taxpaying citizens of Rio Rancho, not require the mayor commanding such municipal authority to have a minimum level of education?

The mayoral salary was increased a short time ago.

Shouldn’t the requirements (college degree) match the increased compensation?

And if we were to use the charter to change the requirements of the mayor, as is being proposed for the judge, would our current elected person in that seat still be able to run?

Could it be viewed as a separation agent?

Would all of the attention, Observer submissions and other media deployments possibly interrupt, influence or impact the results of an upcoming March 2022 election?

Think critically, Rio Rancho, and vote wisely.

John Pearse
Rio Rancho