Torrance County convened a Code of Conduct Review Board after receiving a complaint from Estancia Mayor Nathan Dial, alleging that Torrance County Commissioner Javier Sanchez violated the county’s code of conduct at an August meeting of Estancia’s board of trustees.

In an organizational meeting held Oct. 5, the board, consisting of three people, Sarah Garcia May, Ellen Castillo and Thomas Dow, hammered out details of the format their review of the complaint will take.

The complaint stems from a visit to Estancia’s board of trustees meeting Aug. 23, in which Sanchez addressed the board during its public comment period. According to Dial, Sanchez had been on the agenda in June, but didn’t show up to that meeting.

According to the unofficial minutes of the Aug. 23 meeting, Sanchez wanted to continue discussing economic development, and when told that the meeting had to move on, “[Sanchez] just lost it,” Dial said, adding, “He got aggressive, argumentative, and physically threatening.”

According to the minutes, “Mayor Dial said that he does not go to Commission meetings and speak to the Commission this way; Commissioner Sanchez should not come to a Board of Trustees meeting and speak to the Board and the Mayor in this Way. Commissioner Sanchez approached Mayor Dial and asked him to ‘clock out’ and take this fight outside.”

The minutes go on to say that Sanchez said Estancia was the “weak link” in the county, and called the board and mayor “shits” as he was being escorted out the door. Sanchez later returned to the meeting asking to apologize, the minutes say, but was refused. “When the meeting adjourned, Commissioner Sanchez came back in and apologized to the Board, the Mayor, the Clerk and PD Admin,” the minutes say.

Dial said he filed the complaint because Sanchez was at the trustees meeting representing the county. “I felt that the citizens needed to know what the representative said about the citizens. … He was attacking the board and the mayor that was representing the town. … It was Commissioner Sanchez attacking Mayor Dial, and the board.”

In addition to the complaint, Dial made a sworn statement to Torrance County Sheriff Martin Rivera.

The Code of Conduct Review Board decided to set its hearing after the Nov. 3 election, as Sanchez is seeking re-election to the District 3 county commission seat he now holds.

On Oct. 5, the Review Board decided that it will hold a hearing Nov. 16 at 9 a.m., with a Nov. 9 deadline for the parties to submit their evidence and list of witnesses, along with what each would be expected to testify.

No extensions will be granted for those submissions.

There is no recording of the Estancia board of trustees meeting, and there were no personal cell phone videos recorded of the meeting, said County Manager Janice Barela.

Witnesses will be restricted to those who saw what happened, not character witnesses, with one of the Review Board members quipping, “Their grandmothers can all submit a statement.”

Dial is also on the Nov. 3 ballot, running for the state House of Representatives in District 70.

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.