SAGUACHE — The Saguache Town Board met Friday to review applications for positions vacated in July by four trustees who resigned their positions over ongoing issues with the mayor and town administrator following the resignation of the town deputy clerk.
Last month Luana Lovato was appointed by Mayor Greg Terrell and the two remaining trustees, Susan Collins and Loren Aldrich, to fill one trustee position in order to create a quorum. The other three applicants — Randal Arredondo, Elvie Samora and Timothy Chittum — were approved as new trustees after the vote by the board Friday. Terry Gillette, a local business owner with previous experience in government, submitted an application but was not selected for the position.
According to an announcement read by the board, they “respectfully declined” to consider applications submitted by three of the four trustees who resigned — Wyoma Hansen, Amber Wilson and Janice Torrez — on the advice of the town’s attorney, Karen Lintott. Lintott cited the risk of potential conflicts of interest if the three women were reappointed.
Arredondo and Samora are both former mayors of Saguache and also sat as trustees. Chittum says he has no actual experience in government although he has been involved in town hall meetings. He told the board he wishes to serve the town’s best interests and “is willing to think outside the box.”
Four of the new trustees and whoever is appointed as mayor will be up for re-election next April. Loren Aldrich’s term is up in 2018 and Susan Collins’s term is up in 2020.
Trustee Aldrich told a good-sized crowd that showed up for the meeting he was anxious to demonstrate transparency but “there are things I can’t talk about.” He told citizens changes in city hall will help everyone and commented that the minutes and agendas need to be available to citizens. “My primary goal is to get them out to the public,” he said.
New interim Town Administrator Brandy Reitter introduced herself and explained that she has had experience in settling out problems in town government before while working in Gilcrest. She reinforced Aldrich’s statement on transparency, commenting “transparency is very important. I will be as transparent as possible.”
The citizen comment period was posted for the end of the meeting. No comments were permitted while trustees vetted town trustee applicants.
Several citizens voiced their strong desire for greater transparency from town officials. Don Geddes thanked Aldrich and Collins for remaining on the board.
Another citizen told the board he “has heard a lot of good things about Brandy,” adding that the duties of the last administrator, Pam Fye, were simply “too much.” The board said it will consider the future of the town administrator’s position at a later date, since funding to pay Fye’s salary may now be lost.
Another citizen told the board that if the citizens have complaints, they can call the governor’s office to register them.
Hansen, Wilson and Torrez wished the new board well, but commented they did not feel the conflict of interest objection was entirely legitimate. Hansen said she does not regret resigning her position, but does regret any chaos caused by the resignations.
Mike Wheeler said he still has not received a concrete reason why the former board members could not be reappointed. “The most important thing we need in the town is a functioning board,” he told those in attendance. “We need to support this board and give them the input they need to move all of us forward.”
Another citizen agreed the town needs a reliable answer as to why the old board members could not be reseated.
The new board members were sworn in Tuesday at a regular meeting. They then approved Reitter’s contract as interim town administrator.