The Torrance County commission voted Sept. 23 to hire Janice Barela as county manager, with a unanimous vote.

Barela has worked for the county for almost 12 years. She started her tenure as deputy treasurer under Dorothy Sandoval, and was appointed by the commission to replace Sandoval when she retired.

At the time, her husband was a state senator, and Barela said, “I didn’t like the idea of both of us being on the ballot at the same time,” adding that she asked Tracy Sedillo to run instead, then becoming Sedillo’s deputy treasurer after her successful bid.

Following that, Barela worked as deputy county manager and interim county manager after Wayne Johnson left to take the county manager position in Sandoval County.

“I’ve watched Mrs. Barela as Deputy Manager and Interim Manager, I’m impressed and I’m excited for her to be working with the County, said commission chair Ryan Schwebach in a press release.

“I was in full support, I think she’ll do an excellent job,” said commissioner Javier Sanchez. “I think she’s somebody that’s estimable in the community. I think she’ll do well, I look forward to working with her, surely.”

“We gave the job to a local,” said commissioner Kevin McCall. “I think she’s going to do a good job.”

Barela has been a resident of Torrance County for 35 years, and said the work she’s done in community service complements her work in public service.

Barela created the RESPECT Program for high school students, a curriculum now taught in schools around New Mexico. She is also the founder of a non-profit, Quality Generational Investments, Inc., with a mission of improving quality of life for seniors. Recently she’s worked with schools and municipalities to hand out food during the pandemic.

Barela said she is looking forward to increasing communication between the county and its municipalities. “Right now we’re looking at having some meetings, maybe quarterly, between the mayors and myself, so we can start doing some collaborations,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to serve Torrance County constituents.”

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.