While much of the state has been focused this week on the end of the Legislature’s 30-day session, the news cycle in Doña Ana County has been dominated all week by story after story about the incredibly inappropriate behavior of County Commissioner John Vasquez.
Vasquez has been in the hot seat for a few weeks now as he refused to apologize for a series of misogynist insults and racially charged innuendo toward a local organizer in Doña Ana County, Johana Bencomo. After Bencomo formally leveled a complaint against Vasquez to the County Commission, more allegations of bad behavior began to surface.
In a letter addressed to the Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Richard Ellenberg, Vice-chair of the party Neomi Martinez-Parra referenced “inappropriate sexual misconduct” from Vasquez toward her. Ellenberg has since addressed the issue in an open letter of apology to Martinez-Parra, which also called on Vasquez to resign.
That sentiment that Vasquez needs to resign began when Bencomo initially addressed Vasquez and the County Commission on January 19th, but has now been echoed by both Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall who have called for Vasquez’ resignation in a statement that was also signed by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and State Representative Angelica Rubio.
Additionally, the entire Democratic caucus from Doña Ana County has signed a statement calling on the County Commission to “investigate and take action.”
In the age of the powerful #MeToo movement, it is important that the public at large, not just our elected officials, stand ready to listen to women when they come forward with allegations of abuse and harassment from men in power. ProgressNow New Mexico has worked to help spread awareness about these issues, especially in the age of Trump.
Last year, we brought you the disturbing news of a Carlsbad City Councilor who cited Trump as an excuse to make extremely graphic and misogynist remarks about women. We also brought you news of the Chairman of the Doña Ana Republican Party and his racist remarks following the events at Charlottesville. And just a few months ago we helped encourage the state to take a more proactive approach to the way state officials and lobbyists are trained around issues of sexual harassment at the Roundhouse.
We’re giving you an opportunity to make your voice heard too. Commissioner Vasquez’ actions reflect poorly on Democrats around the state, but honestly on New Mexicans in general. He does not embody the respect and dignity that an elected official anywhere should hold, let alone in our state.
Sign the petition below if you think it’s time Vasquez steps down. The Doña Ana County Commission Chair, Benjamin Rawson, has already started a formal investigation into Vasquez’ actions around Bencomo. ProgressNow New Mexico will deliver these signatures the County Commission at their next regular meeting.