Commissioner-elect resigns from utility board

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By David Giuliani

Marcellino Ortiz, who will join the San Miguel County Commission in January, has resigned from a electric utility serving northeastern New Mexico.

During the summer, members of the Mora-San Miguel Electric Cooperative enacted a bylaw requiring board members and the utility’s attorney to resign when they run for and hold partisan political offices.

Ortiz ran successfully as a Democrat for the commission. Not long after the members’ decision, Ortiz decided to stay on the board, saying the bylaw couldn’t be retroactive. At the time, he said he would file a lawsuit if he were removed.

“There was a reason I stayed there,” Ortiz said last week. “I had an obligation because of my voters.”

But he said he ultimately decided to leave the board because he didn’t want to deal with the controversy of “wearing both hats.”

His resignation happened before he won a seat on the commission Nov. 4.

“The reason I resigned was that I felt pretty confident about my upcoming election. I feel comfortable with the (cooperative) board members that are there now,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz has served on the boards for Tri-State and Plains Electric, which have both been the electricity suppliers for the local cooperative.

Ortiz joins the County Commission on Jan. 1. He beat Republican Mary Bridget Maloney in the general election.