SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico county official is the subject of a recall petition following controversy over a Spanish conquistador statue.
The Santa Fe New Mexican said a county resident filed a complaint last week to begin the recall process, alleging Rio Arriba County Commission Chairman Alex Naranjo committed “malfeasance or misfeasance in office and/or violation of the oath of office.”
The newspaper said Antonio DeVargas would have to gather just more than 1,200 signatures to force a recall vote in a special election.
Among the accusations Naranjo is facing is that he violated the state Open Meetings Act by unilaterally deciding to place the statue of Juan de Oñate at the Rio Arriba County Office Complex.
Chaos erupted and a single shot was fired at a Sept. 28 outdoor gathering in Española over canceled plans to install a bronze likeness of de Oñate, who is both revered and reviled for his role in establishing early settlements along the Upper Rio Grande starting in 1598. A New Mexico man is facing an attempted murder charge in the shooting and wounding of a Native American activist amid confrontations about the aborted plans.
Naranjo told the New Mexican he had not yet been served with the complaint and he “would never be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”