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Monday, March 26, 2007

More on Controversial Taos County Dem Party Elections

A collection of audio clips and photos from the Democratic Party of Taos County Central Committee last week are provided by (scroll down to stories of week of March 26, 2007 and click the Central Committee meeting link). After a meeting filled with arcane parliamentarian maneuvers and rulings, Chuby Tafoya was elected as Taos County Chair in a victory over the current County Chair, Billy Knight.

The manner in which some of the County Party's earlier precinct elections were conducted was widely criticised, with challenges ultimately filed against the validity of the elections in five precincts. Next came a County Credentials Committee meeting, where the challenges were dismissed against four precincts where many of Chuby Tafoya's supporters reside. Many claim this was done without a proper review by the Credentials Committee of affidavits and ballots submitted to document alleged irregularities and rule breaking. One challenge, by Chuby Tafoya's supporters in the large Arroyo Hondo precinct, where most of Billy Knight's supporters (as well as Tafoya) live, was accepted by the Credentials Committee without a review.

Attendees report that despite the presence of the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, the DNC Field Organizer, Joseph Casados, and the State Party Parliamentarian, Robert Beck, on hand to chair the Credentials Committee meeting, not one single person was credentialed and not one single precinct's election documentation examined. Many who witnessed it are calling it an astounding display of incompetence and a violation of Party rules.

Taos County Central Committee Meeting
The audio clips are from the County Central Committee meeting where the Credentials Committee rulings were accepted in violation of the Party rules, and a majority voted to keep the Arroyo Hondo precinct winners from voting in the County Chair election. Some of the speakers describe their reactions to the Arroyo Hondo precinct delegation being kept from voting based on what they deem to be murky and minor technicalities, if any, while other more serious precinct election challenges were set aside without any real review of the evidence by the Credential Committee. Indeed, it seems that clear evidence of the alleged ballot tampering by Tafoya's father was suppressed from examination by the majority vote of the Tafoya-dominated Credentials Committee.

From approximately 7 minutes until 13 minutes on the audio recording, Margarita Denevan gives an especially passionate and clear defense of how the rules were clearly and closely followed in the Arroyo Hondo precinct elections -- ironically, the only precinct where the Credentials Committee saw supposed violations.

After the voting for County Chair was finished at the CCC meeting, giving Chuby Tafoya a victory without any votes from the Arroyo Hondo precinct, the majority voted to reinstate the Arroyo Hondo delegation.

What Comes Next
Emotions continue to run high in Taos, and much criticism continues to be leveled by many of those who attended the Credentials Committee meeting on State Party parliamentarian Robert Beck and Executive Director Matt Farrauto, who were present but did not question the proceedings. It's being alleged that the Credential Committee did not even vote to approve the credentials of those who were allowed to vote at the County Central Committee meeting, and the legality of holding the County Central Committee meeting itself was questioned by incumbent Chair Billy Knight. Knight reportedly intends to challenge precinct elections in three precincts — Talpa, Cruz Alta and Ranchitos — to the state party’s judicial committee.

This is a complicated and emotional situation and it has been somewhat difficult to get and communicate a clear narrative of what happened at the Taos Dem meetings from the reports I'm getting from up north. I hope I'm getting it right so far, as information continues to be released.

Previously Available Material
Check my that lists some of the challenges that were later to be filed against various precinct elections. There's also material on New Mexico Matters that describes alleged violations in one precinct, as well as scanned precinct ballots that show alleged tampering. There's also coverage of an article published by the Taos Daily Horse Fly, which presents the controversy as a rather humorous anecdote, rather than a serious situation where precinct election fraud is being alleged and the process by which Dem Party rules were applied (or not) is being challenged.

March 26, 2007 at 09:42 PM in Democratic Party, Election Reform & Voting, Local Politics | Permalink


will their credentials be accepted at the statewide meeting?

Posted by: suz | Mar 27, 2007 8:32:58 AM

I find all this so sad. I know some people up there and everyone is upset. There is no need for this kind of fighting inside the party. It would help if we had people in leadership roles who would enforce the rules and make sure all that occurs at the meetings is fair. Unfortunately we have cowards in these positions who are afraid to speak up. So many problems could be avoided if we had fairness applied.

Posted by: Old Dem | Mar 27, 2007 1:04:04 PM

The trouble is being stirred up by a handful of nasty people who threaten others to get support for their power grabs. The represent very bad forces up here who work against the good of the people whether Hispanic or Anglo or Indian. Wake up people!

Posted by: El Norte | Mar 27, 2007 2:26:09 PM

Challengers winning doesn't bother me but if they do it by not following the rules it isn't right and the Democratic party should step in and make sure everything is run correctly. Why didn't they do that?

Posted by: roadrunner | Mar 27, 2007 7:14:44 PM

I grew up in Taos and my folks are small business owners there. I now live in ABQ, as I just graduated from the College of Santa Fe, but I still keep up with some of the local politics.

One of the main problems in Taos County that I saw and from what I could gather from the natives is that the leadership of the county party has never implemented a consistent procedure of party elections. Every precinct, every county for that matter does their own rendition of what is called for in the Party Rules.

If Chairman Knight had hosted trainings for his precinct chairs so they knew the process thourouly enough to have a consisitent procedure county-wide, then the problems that arised at the credentials meeting would have never existed.

But who can blame Knight, it is difficult enough to maintain a fully functional volunteer organization. When you inherit the chairmanship of a notoriously "sick" organization you have to face all the baggage that comes with it. I still ask myself "who in the heck really wants to take on the responsibility of being a county chair?"

For what it's worth it seemed that Knight did his best last general election and it was apparently fruitful according to high numbers in Taos. I commend Billy for trying modern methods and establishing stuff like an office and website. Good Job. That was a huge accomplishment.

However, the people spoke on Saturday, specifically the rural area, which is not so technologically savvy, and they voted for Tafoya. Even if all the precinct elections mentioned above were thrown out, Tafoya still has the numbers to win. But I guess for the sake of the Party the elections should be held again? I don't know. but that's what i can gather from a position of being outside looking in.

I just hope Taos County can come together as community and figure out all this business.


Posted by: Nick Petree | Mar 27, 2007 7:32:36 PM

The sentiment about the party coming together is nice but the question that must be answered is whether Chuby Tafoa is Chairman of the Taos Democratic Party or Chairman of Uncle Bobby Duran's politcal machine. Unless he deals with Fernando Miera who made the absolutely unethical motion to supress evidence of ballot tampering and his father who is pretty obviously involved in that tampering, natives, hispanics and anglos alike will clearly know that there's only room in Chuby's party for relatives and loyalists.

Does anybody really believe that the condo burning wasn't revenge?

Nobody wants to say it but this was a racially-based coup; you could predict the votes by skin color.

Posted by: Taos Dem | Mar 29, 2007 10:10:00 AM