After a few years of agitating, a group of people in Edgewood (CORE, for Citizens for an Open and Responsible Edgewood) successfully petitioned for a special election, then overwhelmingly passed a change in Edgewood’s form of government from its current mayor-council format to that of commission-manager. And almost nothing will change as a result.
Either format will work for Edgewood, and there are plenty of commission-manager boards around.
The format doesn’t address the fact that in the current town government, there are two voting blocs: One made up of councilors Sherry Abraham and Audrey Jaramillo, representing the positions of CORE, and another made up of councilors Linda Holle and John Abrams, along with mayor John Bassett, who can vote as a tie-breaker.
Say for the sake of argument that the current governing body could transform itself overnight into a commission, as CORE seems to imply. That majority voting bloc would still exist, only now Bassett would be able to make motions and vote on every motion, not just those that end in a tie. What this governing body really needs to do is learn how to get along—and to stop its grandstanding and rude behavior.
Both the Attorney General’s office and the Secretary of State’s office have made clear that the governing body will remain in its current format as it plans the transition, and that the first election of commissioners will be held in November, 2021. So nothing changes, in the short term.
As communities surrounding Edgewood are taking proactive steps—to help business, as in Mountainair, or cleaning up decades of neglected town issues, as in Tijeras, or bringing new business into town, as in Moriarty—Edgewood’s governing body and staff will now need to spend a large amount of time planning the conversion to the new format. At least one daunting task: Creating five districts of nearly equal population, that are consolidated in shape and contiguous, and accounting for Edgewood’s shoestring annexation of Campbell Ranch along Frost Road.
What CORE refers to as the “superpowers” of referendum, recall and ballot initiatives are in the hands of just under 4,000 registered voters—or really, the 1,500 or so who might be expected to show up in a well-attended election—or really, the couple of hundred pissed-off voters needed to mount a petition. Even that is not so simple: Recall petitions are subject to scrutiny by a court before they can be circulated.
In short, the task before us in Edgewood is complex and will take time.
The residents of Edgewood—including that majority that expressed no preference and are not caught up in the storm CORE is bringing to bear on Bassett—deserve a town staff and government that is attentive to issues including roads, police, parks animal control, and the library. For about the next two years, they can expect them to be less available.
At the same time, CORE has raised some valid points, especially about the way Edgewood meetings are conducted. While it has improved somewhat recently, the level of personal attacks, grandstanding, eye-rolling and more remains far too high.
The much-maligned sewer line on Bassett property was voted on and approved by the town council, as was the town’s exploration of taking over the Epcor water system and both will continue. In short, this election changes almost nothing short term.
Long term, Edgewood’s elected leaders need to focus on doing the people’s work and finding a way to stop fighting. The people of Edgewood, and those of the larger region, deserve no less.