Jake Bruton became the first new mayor in Tijeras in 20 years when took the oath of office, administered by Bernalillo County clerk, Linda Stover on Jan. 3.

Bruton steps into the position held by Gloria Chavez, who was defeated by two votes in November’s election in a race so close it triggered an automatic recount.

Bruton said he intends to immediately look at village ordinances and policies. “They’re just outdated,” he said. “I don’t believe we have a cell phone policy or internet policy, no social media policy.”

Bruton also said he intends to have an “entrance audit” performed to differentiate his administration’s records from those of the previous administration.

According to a June, 2018 audit by the state auditor’s office, the previous administration overpaid several past and present employees, including the mayor and acting clerk, and the village was ordered to collect the overpayments, totaling $47,350.94.

“We’ve got to start working on getting the general fund monies back,” Bruton said. “That hasn’t happened yet. We need to hire someone to do that specific audit.”

“I want cultural change here in the village,” Bruton continued. “We need to go from this narrow minded, ‘can’t do’ kind of culture to ‘what can we do? Can we fix this problem?’”

Bruton said the village needs to invest in its water system. He said he would like to update the village website. He also wants individual key-codes for each employee.

The new mayor said he wants to “start working with Entranosa to make sure we have a secure water source for the indefinite future, and above all I’m not going to be doing anything that in any way jeopardizes the water system of Tijeras.”

Bruton said quite a few residents are concerned about it, and said Entranosa would like to connect the village to its system. “If it’s not beneficial, I don’t intend to enter into the contract,” he said, adding, “If it goes as smooth as it should [the residents] probably wouldn’t even know it happened.”

In the future, Bruton said he would like to work together with Bernalillo County planning and development services on the East Route 66 Sector Development Plan to encourage commercial development along the iconic highway.

Bruton said he wants to develop better methods of informing residents of upcoming projects that might affect them, such as road construction.

In a special meeting Jan. 8, Bruton and the village council met for the first time to vote on new personnel including Bruton’s replacement on the council as mayor pro tem. Don Johnson, was seated in the position by unanimous vote.

A new clerk/treasurer, Michael Wisner, was unanimously approved, replacing Raul Candelaria.

Five new planning and zoning commissioners were approved; Danny Jaramillo, Loran Martinez, Jonathan Ortiz, Alan Haskins, and Victor Gonzales.

Current fire chief, Juan Hernandez, was unanimously approved. And for the first time, according to Bruton, the chief made the nomination for fire marshal, Kyle Kollo, who was also approved unanimously. In the past, Bruton explained, the previous mayor would make the selection, contrary to fire department by-laws.

There was some discussion of new rules of procedure for the village.

New ordinances for water, personnel and, planning and zoning, appeared on the agenda as postponed items.

Bruton said, “My intention is to serve. I don’t want anymore unilateral decision-making, I want the council to be aware of everything, my clerk, the chief—I want to make decisions as an actual body.”

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.