The latest Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative interim general manager is the sixth person to hold the position in less than a decade.
The Co-op has a history of high turnover in its top position, with each person being in charge for less than three years.
After the sudden resignation of Donna Montoya-Trujillo on May 17, the Board of Trustees Executive Committee appointed Andrew Chávez to the interim general manager position.
Montoya-Trujillo held the position for about 15 months. She previously served as the Co-op’s chief financial officer when Joseph Sanchez was general manager.
Sanchez was general manager from November 2014 to October 2017. He left to run for political office and is now a state representative for New Mexico House District 40.
Ernesto Gonzales was general manager prior to Sanchez. He held the position from January 2009 to April 2010 and came out of retirement to serve a second time from the fall of 2013 to November 2014, a previous Rio Grande SUN story states.
Rose Marie Law was interim general manager between Gonzales and Wayne Sowell.
Sowell was general manager from April 2010 to October 2012, when the Board removed him from the position.
Naming Chávez to the interim general manager position also highlights the Board’s habit of promoting from within rather than searching for an outside candidate to lead the Co-op.
Law was the Co-op’s Human Resources director when she took over the interim position, a past SUN article states. Gonzales started at the Co-op in 2005 as finance director.
Chávez said he could not remember what years he first worked at the Co-op, but that he was rehired in 2014 as an Information Technology technician. He previously worked as a certified systems administrator and a community and marketing manager.
He said his past experience at the Co-op makes him a good fit for the position he is in now.
“My reaction is I step up to the plate where needed, and obviously this was one of those areas where I was asked to fulfill,” he said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “And with my experience here at the Co-op, my experience as a manager, I felt that it would come in use (sic) to assist in the transition.”
Chávez said it is too early to say whether he will apply to become the general manager.
“Right now it is a transitional phase,” he said. “I do ask people, if they are interested in coming to visit me, I retain (sic) an open-door policy. They are also always more than welcome to come visit me at the Co-op.”
Chávez said he views the Co-op as a family and wants everyone to feel welcome.
“We want to make sure that we treat all individuals who walk into this Cooperative as part of this family,” he said.
Why Montoya-Trujillo resigned is still unknown.
She did not return phone calls inquiring about her decision to leave the Co-op by press time.
Board of Trustees President and District 5 Trustee Nick Naranjo declined to provide any details during a May 21 telephone interview about her resignation.
“I am not going to say why she thinks she did it,” he said previously.
An email between Montoya-Trujillo and Board Member-at-Large John Tapia from April 16, or about one month prior to her resignation, shows there were tensions between the two.
“Contemplating this email has not been easy,” Montoya-Trujillo wrote. “I regret communicating my concerns to you in the way that I did and I apologize.”
The email outlines a situation in which Tapia became angry after a conversation with Jerry Mosher, the owner of Mosher Enterprises, Inc., after learning a line about conflicts of interest was added to the Power Purchase Agreement.
The Power Purchase Agreement is related to the 2.5 megawatt solar array project planned in Alcalde. The company Consolidated Solar Technologies is a part of Mosher Enterprises and is tasked with building and maintaining the array.
“I do believe that there is absolutely no conflict of interest with you or anybody else on the Board related to the solar array,” Montoya-Trujillo wrote. “My professional opinion is that this is an arm’s length transaction. I hope our relationship has not been too badly damaged over this issue. Again I am sorry.”
During Tapia’s trial with his former employer Los Alamos National Laboratory in December 2018, it was discovered that Tapia is an employee of Mosher Enterprises.
Although the Co-op’s bylaws state trustees are in no way to be “financially interested in a competing enterprise or a business selling electric energy or major supplies to the Cooperative,” the email shows Montoya-Trujillo did not believe there were any problems with Tapia’s employment with the company.