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Special meetings, secret tapes and Socorro council

On Saturday Socorro’s town hall seemed quiet and deserted. But inside, the Socorro citizens were torn just likethe flag on the town hall’s porch. “WhatI expect today is something positive, so that the citizens can take control of their goverment,” said council member Maria Reyes. Sheexpressed her feelings toward the recent actions of council before the special meeting began. As soon as the meeting started, a motion was madeto hold special elections in May. The vote passed 4-1. Then council members called for an executive session.

“We demand justice” shouted attendees on the other side of the closed doors. Constituents held signs showinghow they felt.

“I’m tired of my city council offering bribes,” said another man in the crowd.He was referring to an undercover tape recording recently obtained by ABC-7. Lincon Dairy owners say Jesse Gandara was secretly recorded while he was trying to offer them a bribe.

“This is what im proposing, we figure something out and it would be a mutually benificial compromise, wich is basically that the Licon Dairy would say something like, you know we would want to be annexed by the City of Socorro,” said Gandara in the recording obtained by ABC-7.

City spokesman Dave Garcia says the city will be investigating the motives behind the people who leaked the tape toABC-7 and the sheriff’s department. Garcia doesn’t state the city will be investigating Gandara for allegedly offering the bribes, but the sheriff’s department already is. Outsidea man unknowingly held a sign that would quickly become a reality inside. It read, “Gandara resign.””In an effort to avoid protracted litigation and expense for the City of Socorro and to bring this matter to a close,I am submitting my resignation and requesting the vacancy be declared and a special election be called as soon as possible for this, my seat on city council,” said Gandara in Saturday’s meeting.

Council members Gandaraand Madrid both resigned from their seats. “Until their replacements have been selected, they have the right to continue to perform the duties of that seat until they have been replaced,” said Garcia. County commisioner Vince Perez tellsABC-7 for Gandara and Madrid to remain in their seats is illegal.

“I think the district attorney has been pretty clear in what the law is, and so to remain in office an additional three months when there terms have already been extended which was against the law in the first place, againI think that resignation seems disingenuous,” said Perez.

Perez tells ABC-7 the Socorro scandal will now be a big part of what’s talked about in commissioners court on Monday. “With other decisions regarding the annexation in particular that’s something we’re going to discuss tomorrow in commisioners court during executive session to see what if anything can be done in terms of the annexation process,” said Perez.

For Socorro, Perez says this could be a turning point in the city’s history. “Regardless of the out come the people of Socorro need to use this opportunity to elect leaders it is that they trust will carry out the duties of the office appropriately.”

Garcia was askedif Madrid or Gandara would likely stay in their seats. He toldABC-7 he has not gotten any word on that.

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