Edgewood Mayor Pro Tem John Abrams made a second attempt to appoint a clerk-treasurer for the town, which again failed on the now-familiar 2-2 split on the town council.

Like the previous meeting, most of Monday’s special meeting was in closed session, as a personnel matter.

Abrams had again brought forward a former employee of the town, Tracy Sweat, as his appointee for the clerk-treasurer position, which is required by state law.

After about a half an hour in closed session, the governing body convened in open session.

Councilor Linda Holle made a motion to approve Sweat, seconded by Abrams.

Councilor Audrey Jaramillo asked whether the governing body could hear the opinions of candidates for the incoming commission, which will be seated Jan. 1, 2022.

Edgewood residents voted to change its government from the mayor-council format it has used to date to a commission-manager format.

The only member of Edgewood’s current governing body who will be on that commission is Jaramillo; she is running unopposed for the District 3 position.

Also running for the commission unopposed are Jerry Powers in District 2 and Sterling Donner in District 5.

Two other districts have contested races, with Kenneth Brennan and Ralph Hill vying for District 1 and Filandro Anaya and John Bassett running for District 4.

Bassett was removed from his position as mayor by a district judge a year ago; a case is before the Supreme Court to decide whether he should have been removed from office.

“I just need to know if you’re okay hearing from them,” Jaramillo said of the commission candidates tuned in to the virtual meeting.

“Is that a motion, councilor?” Abrams asked.

Jaramillo made a motion to allow members of the public to address the agenda items under consideration and action, seconded by Councilor Sherry Abraham.

Abraham then suggested that the candidates “need to know the terms of the contract so they can discuss it.”

Abrams said an employment contract doesn’t become a public document unless approved.

Jaramillo’s motion died due to lack of a majority.

Jaramillo then started to read emails she had received from those candidates.

“I will remind you that the candidates have not taken office yet, and their opinions, although valid, are not germane to our discussion right now,” Abrams said. “I will also remind the council that we have a statutory obligation to appoint a clerk-treasurer and to have that clerk-treasurer ratified and sworn. And without that … continuing meetings might be at odds with state statute. Now, are you going to read the rest of all of your email, or can we get on with it?”

Jaramillo argued that the town has an interim clerk-treasurer, while Abrams argued, “That’s not what the statute states.”

After the two went back and forth on the issue for several minutes, Holle said, “We’ve had this discussion for over an hour in closed session,” calling for the vote.

“I don’t agree to that,” Jaramillo said. “We need to have discussion.”

Abraham said the council should hear more from Jaramillo, as the only person on the governing body who would be on the incoming commission, after which Jaramillo started to talk about the clerk-treasurer job description, and said that with a new commission, the town might change its organizational chart or other structures.

Part of the change in format means that the town will hire a manager, and Jaramillo suggested it might also want to hire a finance director, separating the clerk and treasurer positions.

“Councilor, if that’s what the new commission wants, you’re on it, so make that happen,” Abrams said. “Right now, we don’t have the luxury of time, we need somebody in the position in order to fully constitute the town of Edgewood. You have a vote. Okay, council? Each of you has a vote. I think it is time to vote.”

Holle and Abrams voted in favor of the appointment, while Jaramillo and Abraham voted against; the motion died due to a lack of a majority.

“No decision and this meeting is duly adjourned,” Abrams said.

As Jaramillo said there were other items to address on the agenda, the video feed on the virtual meeting ended.

She said in an interview with The Independent that she wanted to protect Sweat, because things could change in a few months. “Secondly, because any time you have a new governing body, or new management … you want to let the leaders that are going to be leading the stuff choose their team.”

“Business is getting done, the lights are still on, bills are getting paid,” Jaramillo said. “There is no emergency, no gun to our head, saying we have to do something right now.”

In addition to losing its clerk-treasurer in Juan Torres, who recently took a job ad Torrance County’s deputy manager, Edgewood has lost its planning and zoning administrator Tawyna Mortensen and its deputy clerk, Carla Salazar.

Its filled administrative positions include an accounting assistant, administrative assistant and secretary.

Holle held the position of interim deputy clerk at the beginning of the Bassett administration, and said of the job in an interview with The Independent, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

“I think it’s irresponsible of the council,” she continued, adding that in her opinion, town operations are not running smoothly. “It’s a dereliction of duty for us not to do this, and it’s not fair to the staff left behind. … Our responsibility is to the town of Edgewood. They’re not running the show yet.”