Winner's residency at issue

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By David Giuliani

San Miguel County Commissioner-elect Arthur Padilla signed an affidavit three months ago listing his residence at 711 Legion Drive. It was made under oath.

But new information indicates that he has been living in Rociada, about 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

When an Optic reporter knocked on the door at 711 Legion last Monday, Padilla’s son came out. Asked if Padilla lives at the house, he said his father lives in Rociada.

Padilla, who works in the county’s planning and zoning office, won last week’s Democratic primary for the District 3 County Commission seat with 52 percent of the vote, edging out Albert Padilla, who has served for four years.

No Republicans filed for the position; Arthur Padilla’s term starts Jan. 1.

Arthur Padilla signed a declaration of candidacy on March 16 with the Legion Drive address as his residence and his Rociada home as his mailing address. Both places are in District 3.

He has been registered at Legion since 1990.

In a telephone interview Monday, Arthur Padilla said he stays at both places.

“This is not a big story. We intend to move back (to Legion). If we don’t, I’ll change (the registration) to Rociada,” he said.

He said that unlike others, he doesn’t change his residency back and forth.

He said the Legion residence had been the family home for four decades and that he has a ranch in Rociada. He also said some of the utilities at Legion are in his name.

Because Arthur Padilla is registered at Legion, he can vote in city elections.

In a telephone interview Monday, Albert Padilla said he knows that his opponent lives in Rociada. He said he would check to see what he could do about the situation.

“If he lives in Rociada, he should put his address over there,” Albert Padilla said.

Arthur Padilla isn’t the only candidate who has faced questions over his residency in recent times.

In March, the Optic discovered that District 1 Commissioner June Garcia had been registered at 220 Delgado St. for the last 15 years, even though she hadn’t lived there. She had been living on El Llano Road during that time, which is north of town.

Both addresses are within County Commission District 1, which June Garcia represents. (She lost in last week’s Democratic primary.)

Her husband, LeRoy Garcia, who served as commissioner for eight years before her election, also listed Delgado Street.

She contended that it was legal for her and her husband to keep Delgado Street on their registration because they eventually planned to build a house there.

She was referring to a clause in state law that allows a voter to claim an address if the voter intends to return there. That often applies to situations involving college and temporary work and military assignments.

In the 2008 election, state Rep. Thomas Garcia, a Democrat, faced questions about his residency. He lives much of the time on Seventh Street, which is outside of his district. But he lists his official residence as Ocate, where he says he spends part of the time.