High court won’t help Salinas take office

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Sunland Park Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas

Sunland Park Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas

The N.M. Supreme Court declined to do anything today about conditions of release from jail that are preventing Sunland Park Mayor-elect Daniel Salinas from being sworn in.

Thursday is the deadline to take the oath of office, and Salinas isn’t likely to find a way to do it.

“I was looking forward to telling Mr. Salinas that he was going to have conditions modified to be sworn in,” Salinas’ attorney, Joshua Spencer, was quoted by KFOX-TV as saying. “Mr. Salinas is effectively unemployed.”

Salinas faces felony extortion and bribery charges and isn’t allowed to step foot in city hall or have contact with any city employee, including a judge who could administer the oath of office.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the court’s decision to decline to change the conditions of Salinas’ release, which came after 10 minutes of deliberation, was unanimous.

What happens next isn’t clear. If Salinas isn’t sworn in by Thursday, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported that city officials aren’t sure what to do. From the newspaper:

“City Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Isabel Santos said the city must contact the Secretary of State’s Office to find out how to fill the vacancy. She said an official with the New Mexico Municipal League advised it shouldn’t be filled by holding a special election, but rather the city council should appoint someone.

“‘We need more information about what we need to do,’ she said.”

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The mayor-elect was most recently arrested, along with the former interim police chief, on bribery charges based on an alleged deal that gave Luis Monarez the police job. Salinas is also facing extortion charges stemming from allegations that he and others attempted to get an opponent in the March 6 election to drop out of the race by making a video of him getting a lap-dance and threatening to release it publicly.

Salinas has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Meanwhile, the candidate who appeared in the lap-dance video, Gerardo Hernandez, has said he plans to challenge the election results. Salinas defeated him by 84 votes.

His challenge is likely to largely be based on another public corruption case related to the election alleging voter fraud that was aimed at helping Salinas win.

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