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Sheriff candidate White looking to courts to decide on the office issue

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By Tris DeRoma

Los Alamos resident and county sheriff candidate Greg White is urging the New Mexico Supreme Court to address a legal standoff between the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office and the County Council that has gone on for 16 months.
Currently, council wants the First Judicial Court of Santa Fe to decide if Los Alamos County’s charter permits them abolish the office.
The Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office believes the county needs to follow state statutes. Current county sheriff Marco Lucero and his attorney, A. Blair Dunn, believe state statutes protects the office from local officials seeking to abolish it.
So does White.
“Enacted five years after home rule, reflecting the more specific and more current will of the people in regards to all counties, current and future, home rule or incorporated, as no distinction is made, states twice in one paragraph that counties must follow statutes and the constitution,” White said in his petition to the court.
In one statute he cited for the court, he said it mentions twice that counties must follow state statutes and the constitution in matters concerning the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office.
He also claims in his petition that county council members violated their oaths of office when they authorized a countywide referendum on whether to keep the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s office.
In 2016, the Los Alamos County Council voted to remove nearly all of the duties of the Los Alamos County Sheriff, leaving Lucero with just one duty at that time, tracking and registering sex offenders living in the county.
In November 2016, in a countywide referendum on whether or not to abolish the sheriff’s office altogether, the voters voted to restore the office.
However, in January, county council instead voted to cut the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office’ budget to $7,000 for the whole year.
Lucero, through Dunn, then filed a lawsuit Aug. 29 against the county council “to fulfill their statutory responsibility…to pass the necessary budget measures to adequately fund the Office of the County Sheriff that are conducive to the welfare of the municipality and to appropriate an adequate budget necessary for the sheriff to perform all acts required for the general welfare of the municipality as directed by state statute.”
Earlier this month, council fired back with a cease-and-desist order, that if approved by the district court, would prevent Lucero from being sheriff of Los Alamos County altogether, at least until the ultimate question of whether or not the county needs a sheriff is settled by the courts.
“(My) suit is based on the Los Alamos County Council’s violation of oath of office for first illegally putting the office of sheriff up for a vote in clear violation of statute… Then adding more violations of oath by ignoring the will of the people in violation of the constitution,” White said in his petition.
White hopes his petition achieves three goals that he said would make the office a functioning office. The first is the restoration of the sheriff’s budget to $225,000.
He also wants the undersheriff and executive secretary positions restored to the office, something he said is required by state statute. He would also like all services to be restored and that the office is equipped with its own patrol vehicle, updated radio equipment and that the county pays for basic ongoing training at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.