State Judge Rejects Las Cruces Recall Election Lawsuit

May 20, 2015

The Honorable Judge Mary W. Rosner

  District Judge Mary Rosner has rejected a lawsuit filed by a petitioner who wanted a recall election against Las Cruces city councilor Gill Sorg.

The petitioner, Robert Burow, challenged the Las Cruces city clerk's decision to throw out petition signatures.

In her ruling, Rosner cited state law, which allows the city clerk to "resolve issues of residency and major infractions."

The ruling noted that 757 people had requested their names be removed from petitions in the attempts to recall Sorg and fellow councilors Olga Pedroza and Nathan Small.  The ruling added that those 757 requests represented more than 25 percent of all signatures collected.  The recall petition drive was marked by allegations of fraud in which petitioners were accused of asking people to sign the petition to prevent the closure of a youth boxing center.

The three councilors targeted in the recall campaign voted against the city's new minimum wage law in a stated attempt to get the measure on the November ballot.  That effort failed, because the other councilors and the Mayor voted for the law in a stated effort to amend it.   Eventually, the law was amended in a number of ways, including a two-year delay in the second and third wage increases.  The city minimum wage is currently $8.40.  It rises to $9.20 in 2017 and $10.10 in 2019.  The original law would have increased the wage to $9.20 in 2016 and $10.10 in 2017.

While a city resident must be listed as a petitioner in the effort to force a recall election, petitioner Robert Burow was not on his own in the recall election campaign.  The failed campaign was organized by the political action committee New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow.  The group quickly raised more than $30,000 following the minimum wage law debate, with most of the money coming from a handful of local business owners.