The Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative general manager is resigning, after nearly three years on the job.
Joseph Sanchez, who became general manager in November 2014, submitted a letter of resignation, Sept. 27, to Co-op Board of Trustees President Nick Naranjo. That same day, he announced his resignation at a special Board meeting.
His final day at the Co-op will be Oct. 18.
“I just want to thank all of the employees for their hard work while I was there and I want to thank the Board for giving me the opportunity and thank the members for all their patience,” Sanchez said in a Tuesday phone interview.
Naranjo said he was surprised by the announcement.
“I asked him to stay,” he said. “I never wanted him to leave.”
Sanchez did not specify what he will do once he leaves the Co-op, only that he will “pursue other opportunities.”
In a statement, Naranjo wrote that Sanchez “informed the Board the (sic) he would be accepting another job.”
Sanchez said although he is leaving, he is confident about the future of the Co-op.
“There were a lot of issues we were dealing with and I think the Co-op is financially stable as it has ever been,” he said. “Working with the Board, I have left the place much better than when I got here.”
During the last regular Board meeting, Sept. 22, the Co-op had a cash balance of about $15.7 million.
In his resignation letter, Sanchez included a list of 41 accomplishments he initiated during his time as general manager.
These include the payment of capital credits to members for the first time in 15 years, increased training for staff and the plan to build a 50 acre, 7.5 mega-watt solar project.
As he prepares for his final day, Sanchez said he will focus on customer service initiatives, but he would not give details as to what these initiatives are, or what he, or other Co-op employees will do to accomplish them.
“I’m just making sure that everything gets transitioned to the proper people and I don’t leave anything, or anyone, hanging,” he said.
District 4 Trustee David Salazar, who is currently serving his 13th term on the Board, said he is “extremely disappointed” to see Sanchez leave and said he is a “competent and honest individual.”
“I thought he was doing a tremendous job and he is well-qualified,” Salazar said. “He hired good, professional people to do the job.”
He, along with District 1 Trustee Dennis Trujillo, District 2 Trustee Dolores McCoy and District 6 Trustee Bruce Duran, called for a special meeting to be held to discuss the hiring of a new general manager.
According to Board Policy 103, the Board is responsible for hiring a new general manager, but the policy does not outline a procedure or rules they must follow in the process.
It will be up to Naranjo and the other Board members to design the hiring process and make those decisions, Sanchez said.
“The Board will be working with staff to hire a new general manager,” Naranjo wrote. “We want our customers to know that we will do everything possible to ensure we hire the most qualified candidate to work with (the) Board and move our Co-op forward.”
In his resignation letter, Sanchez offered the Board advice, as they begin the process.
“My recommendation, as the Board selects the next General manager, is to require integrity and select a trustworthy, honest and competent individual,” he wrote.
Co-op Chief Financial Officer Donna Trujillo will be the interim general manager until someone is hired for the position, Sanchez said. She has more than 20 years experience and is a certified public accountant.
Before his time at the Co-op, Sanchez worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 12 years as an electrical engineer and an engineering manager.
A special Board meeting will be held, 4 p.m., Thursday (10/5), at the Co-op’s office in Hernandez, to discuss the hiring process.
The meeting is open to the public.