The Tijeras village council, led by councilor Jake Bruton, moved Monday to hire its own attorney to force Mayor Gloria Chavez to implement its firing of Diane Klaus.

Saying he had “hoped it would never get this far,” Bruton said he intends to continue pushing forward. “I’m tired of the mayor not respecting the law,” he said in a Tuesday interview.

Chavez did not return a phone call for comment on this story.

The village council in January voted unanimously to fire Klaus, who at various times had worked for the village as acting clerk, deputy clerk and interim clerk. The wording of the motion bars Klaus from any future employment with the village.

At that time Chavez said she would not remove Klaus from her post in spite of the council’s vote, and Klaus continued on the job.

Bruton said the village attorney, Frank Coppler, recused himself from the matter and advised the council to hire an attorney, which it did by unanimous vote at a special meeting Monday, preceding its regular meeting. The council hired bankruptcy lawyers, Rael and Anaya.

Bruton has called several special meetings after being frustrated that items he asked to have placed on the agenda—a job entrusted to Klaus—did not appear.

The council unanimously directed Chavez to remove Klaus from her post by Friday.

Bruton said “rude and vindictive behavior” on the part of Klaus was behind the council’s decision to remove her from her job.

“I just want [Chavez] to follow the law,” Bruton said, adding, “I’m tired of the mayor not respecting the law. … That’s why we’re elected.”

Bruton said results from the March municipal elections—in which he garnered 51 percent of the vote in a crowded field of six candidates—amount to a mandate for his continued push for change in the village.

“The people spoke pretty loud and clear,” Bruton said. “I have felt no need to overstate the gravity and urgency of what we need to do.”

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.