Española Mayor Removes City Manager

Kelly at budget hearing2
Kelly Duran at budget hearing for the  City of Española last May. Sitting next to him is Services Director Joyce Sandoval. Valley Daily Post photo

Española Mayor Removes City Manager

Staff Report

Friday afternoon Española Mayor Alice Lucero called a surprise mandatory Directors meeting at City Hall. When all the city’s department directors arrive for the meeting they learned that Mayor Lucero has suspended City Manager Kelly Duran from his position effective immediately. According to city staff, Duran is on paid administrative leave until further notice and Mayor Lucero has appointed Community Services Director Mark Trujillo as the interim city manager.

Sources inside city hall report that the appointment of Mark Trujillo as temporary interim city manager will be made official at the upcoming March 21 organizational meeting of the newly constituted City Council. Sources report the the City would then commence a search for a new city manager.

The Council’s organizational meeting occurs following each city election and is when all appointed officials including City Manager, City Clerk, Public Safety Director and the other department directors are ratified by the council.

Duran has served as City Manager since October 28, 2014, when he was appointed following a long and difficult search process to fill the position.

In what some describe as an unusual move for a City Manager, Duran has worked for the past 17 months without a contract. When reached for comment Duran said he went without a contract to avoid additional financial burden for the city. He also reportedly declined a car allowance, housing allowance, retirement and city healthcare coverage. Duran said that not taking healthcare saved the city around $12,000 per year, not an insubstantial amount in a tight budget.

The City of Epsanola’s budget for the current fiscal year is slightly over $10 million, a decline in gross receipts revenues for the city has shrunk the city’s budget over the past several years and in the last budget cycle the city only narrowly avoided having to furlough employees to make ends meet.

When asked about his placement on administrative leave Duran provided the following statement. “I’ve been honored to work with the mayor and governing body and more so the employees. The City of Española has some exceptional public servants working for the city and it has been a great honor to serve with them.

My heart and soul is with this valley. When I accepted this job I did so to help improve the quality of life for everyone, not just a select few. Española deserves better.

But, in any type of relationship it is bound for some separation to occur. We grew apart in a fashion. The Mayor and governing body have a vision for Española that is great too.

Should my tenure ultimately end through non-appointment by the governing body, I wish nothing but success to the Mayor and Council. I’ve been proud to be associated with this great city.”

Attempts to reach Mayor Alice Lucero for a comment have not yet been successful. This article will be updated as more information come available.

Also on Friday the four newly elected City Council members were sworn into office. Dennis Tim Salazar begins his fourth term and Peggy Sue Martinez begins her second consecutive term. Manny Martinez who was recently elected for district 3 begins his first term and Robert Seeds rejoins council after a two-year hiatus.