The Mountainair Town Council originally planned for its February 07, 2023 meeting to focus on resolving the employment dispute between the town and former Mountainair Police Officer Michael Shumate. However, Mayor Peter Nieto explained, Shumate’s attorney (Eric Dixon of Portales, NM, who has also represented Town Councilor Ernie Lopez) had hoped that the matter could be resolved behind closed doors. Dixon had requested the matter be handled in an executive session that the public could not access. Nieto said he advised Dixon that the matter would need to be addressed in an open meeting under New Mexico’s Open Public Meetings Act. As a result, Dixon requested a delay of the matter until a future meeting. As an additional matter, the Town Council planned to discuss the return of two vehicles to Paul Anaya (this matter was also discussed during the January 17, 2023 meeting of the Mountainair Town Council), but Frank Anaya had requested that the discussion be cancelled.
The only matter left for the Town Council was discussion of the purchase of the “Chuck Wagon” property, at 711 West Broadway Street. Mayor Nieto introduced a motion to purchase the property to expand the Mountainair Public Works yard. The Town Council unanimously approved purchasing the property.
During the comments period, Nieto briefed attendees on the state of the Mountainair Family Health Center operated by Presbyterian Medical Services. Stating he had rumors that the clinic was closing, Nieto advised that the current practitioners at the clinic were leaving, but that the clinic would remain operational with temporary staffing.
During the public comment period, New Mexico State Police Captain AJ Rodriguez and Lieutenant Wendy Graft spoke to the audience. Graft explained she would take over the operations of the NMSP facility that focuses on Torrance County (NMSP’s personnel assigned to District 5 handle Torrance County). Rodriguez spoke about how he believed it was important for the public to trust and communicate with the NMSP. He also acknowledged how the recent killings of Tyre Nichols in Memphis and Manuel Esteban Paez Teran in Atlanta made it more difficult for the public to trust law enforcement. Members of the audience responded by sharing concerns regarding what they described as the NMSP’s slow response times and refusal to show up in response to a domestic violence incident.
Update: Audio Recording from the February 07, 2023 Town Council Meeting