Questa Village Council ousts administrator in split vote

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 5/15/19

The Questa Village Council voted Tuesday night (May 14) to terminate the village administrator at the request of the mayor.

Nicholas Maestas had been the top manager in the village government …

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Questa Village Council ousts administrator in split vote

Posted

This story has been updated to reflect the version that appeared in print May 16,2019.

The Questa Village Council voted Tuesday night (May 14) to terminate the village administrator at the request of the mayor.

Nicholas Maestas had been the top manager in the village government since August 2017. 

Questa Mayor Mark Gallegos first recommended severing ties with Maestas in April, when he placed Maestas on paid administrative leave. 

The council was split on the recommendation Tuesday night. Councilors Louise Gallegos and Charlie Gonzales voted in favor of the termination, while councilors John Anthony Ortega and Brent Jaramillo voted to keep him. Gallegos then voted in favor of the termination, breaking the tie. 

The mayor had previously cited “morale” issues among village staff as the reason for seeking the terminate the administrator, something that requires a vote of the council.

“I feel Mr. Maestas wasn’t given due process [or] a fair shot. Good luck in the future,” said Ortega following the vote.

Ortega suggested the council hold off on a vote later this month to approve the budget unless the mayor had a replacement for Maestas. “I ask for it to be handled in a timely manner,” he said.

“I will not be bullied and forced by a governing body to make a recommendation unless I feel comfortable doing so,” responded Gallegos.

“It’s not going to affect the budget in any way administratively,” he said. “We’re going to take our time [finding a new administrator].”

The atmosphere was mostly congenial, but also a little stilted, after the meeting adjourned.

“I’m just going to put my things in a box … I’m going to do that,” said Maestas, gathering a hand-carved wooden bear and a few trinkets and files in his office shortly after the vote.

“I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to take the lead at the village for the last year and 10 months,” Maestas told The Taos News.

“I wish I had some specifics. Given that it was personnel [issues], I would like to have the opportunity to learn what those are so I can grow and be a better professional moving forward and more effective leading organizations in my future,” he said.

“I want to share my appreciation for the community members of the greater Questa area who have welcomed me into this beautiful community and especially those who reached out to me over the last few weeks to offer their support. Questa has a lot of potential as it evolves and as it is right on the cusp, I hope to see it thrive,” he said.

“I’m [going to] really make sure I’m taking care of things at home and see where the next step is,” he said.

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