KRWG News has learned that petitions to recall Las Cruces city councilors Gill Sorg, Olga Pedroza, and Nathan Small were submitted on Friday. The city clerk has 20 working days to verify the signatures on the petitions. But even if enough verified signatures were collected to trigger an election, the recall effort could face problems.
In a previous KRWG report, a spokesperson for the City of Las Cruces said the clerk's office has received a “handful” of concerns by phone, email, and in person that the petitions were misrepresented during canvassing. The clerk's office says if anyone feels they were misled into signing the recall petition they can write a letter to the City Clerk’s Office asking to be purged from the recall list. In the letter, residents must include their name and address as signed on the petition, explain what happened, request to be purged from the petition, and identify the circulator by name if possible.
The recall campaign was organized by a group calling itself New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow. The group quickly raised more than $30,000, mostly from local businessmen. In the last year, many in the business community have opposed a new minimum wage law drafted by the group Communities in Action and Faith.
The three councilors targeted in the recall voted against the minimum wage law in a stated effort to get the measure on the November ballot. But that effort failed when the other councilors and the Mayor voted to approve the law with stated intentions of making adjustments at a later date.
The adjustments that were eventually approved came in the form a resolution drafted by councilor Nathan Small, and supported by councilors Ceil Levatino, Miguel Silva, and Greg Smith.
The changes included one year delays in the second and third minimum wage increases. Right now, the Las Cruces minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $9.20 in 2017 and $10.10 in 2019. The original law would have implemented the $9.20 minimum wage next January, with $10.10 becoming the new minimum in 2017.