After 15 months on the job, Donna Montoya-Trujillo resigned her position as general manager of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative.
Co-op Board of Trustees President and District 5 Trustee Nick Naranjo said she resigned on May 17, but would not share any further details.
“I am not going to say why she thinks she did it,” he said.
The Executive Committee appointed current Co-op employee Andrew Chavez to be interim general manager.
The Executive Committee is made up of Naranjo, Vice President and District 6 Trustee Leo Marquez, Secretary and District 5 Trustee Harold Trujillo, Treasurer and District 3 Trustee Johnny Jaramillo and Assistant Secretary Treasurer and District 4 Trustee Lucas Cordova.
Montoya-Trujillo did not return a message by press time inquiring about her decision to resign.
“As far as I am concerned, she did a very outstanding job for the Co-op,” Naranjo said.
The sudden departure is worrisome to some of the candidates in the upcoming June trustee elections.
District 6 Trustee Bruce Duran said the Co-op is like “a bus going down the road and nobody is driving.”
Duran was Board president prior to Naranjo, who took over the position in July 2017.
There have been too many key employees who have left under Naranjo’s tenure, Duran said.
Since Naranjo became Board president, former general manager Joseph Sanchez, former Co-op engineer Adam Roybal and now Montoya-Trujillo have resigned from their positions.
“I think that my concerns have been reinforced that we need change and we need to restructure the Board and put someone who is competent as chairman and who (are) competent on the executive board,” Duran said.
Patrick Herrera is running against Cordova for the District 4 seat.
He said the Co-op is a “good ol’ boys’ club.”
“That just shows the dysfunction of that Board,” he said.
Cordova and District 5 Trustee Victor Salazar are the incumbent candidates in their districts. Neither of them returned phone calls inquiring about the potential impact Montoya-Trujillo’s departure could have on the upcoming elections.
District 5 candidate and Dixon resident Stanley Crawford did not return a phone call by press time.
Who is Chavez?
A previous Rio Grande SUN articles states Chavez is from Alcalde and was a Rio Arriba County Board of Commissioners member from 2003 to 2006.
He ran for a second term in 2006, but lost in the primary to Alfredo Montoya, election results posted on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office website shows.
Chavez also served on the Española School Board for two terms, but lost to current School Board President Ruben Archuleta in the February 2015 election.
Naranjo said Chavez is a Co-op employee, but could not recall for how many years.
The Co-op’s website lists Chavez as the director of information technology.
A message left for Chavez Tuesday inquiring about his new interim manager position was not returned by press time.
Prior to her departure, Herrera spoke to Montoya-Trujillo about the availability of digital voter records.
She refused to give a digital file to him, Herrera said.
“(She said) that it contained private information and I told them, ‘What’s the difference between the hard copy and the digital file?’” he said.
He said Montoya-Trujillo told him she discussed the issue with Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP Attorney Charles Garcia and that it was up to her discretion whether or not she released a digital file.
Garcia is the Board’s contract attorney.
Herrera obtained a paper copy of the list May 7, the same day he registered for the election packet.
He, along with all candidates, are required to sign a receipt acknowledging they meet the qualifications to run for a spot on the Board, as well as receipt of the paper voter list.
“I agree that the membership list provided shall be used by the candidate for the purposes of the election and shall not retain the data in any form and will return or destroy them immediately after the election,” the form states.
Duran said he left a message requesting a digital voter list, but never received a return phone calls.
“(It is) chaos in there,” he said, referring to the Co-op.
Montoya-Trujillo was offered the position of general manager on February 13, 2018. She was one of three finalists interviewed for the position. The other finalists were former Co-op engineer Adam Roybal and Rafael De La Torre, who was a then Los Alamos County Departmet of Public Utilities manager and a former Co-op engineering and operations director.
Co-op elections for Districts 4, 5 and 6 will be held at the end of June.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The District 4 election will be held June 21at the Co-op’s offices in Española.
The District 5 election will be held June 24 at Española Valley High School.
The District 6 election will be held June 26 at the old high school in Pojoaque.