Voters in Mesilla elect a new mayor
After 12 years as the town’s leader, Michael Cadena is defeated by Mayor Pro Tem Nora Barraza
Voters in the Town of Mesilla replaced 12-year incumbent Mayor Michael Cadena today, electing Trustee Nora Barraza to lead the city out of its current budget deficit.
Cadena finished third in a three-way race, with 113 votes to Ella Nelson’s 324 votes and Barraza’s 488 votes, according to Town Clerk Juan Fuentes. The results are unofficial until a canvassing election that will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“It was a lot of hard work, but it all paid off,” Barraza said this evening. “I know what the issues are and I’m just ready to move forward on them.”
Among Barraza’s top priorities, she said, are addressing the city’s budget deficit and improving communication between the mayor, the board of trustees, staff members, residents and business owners.
Cadena could not immediately be reached for comment.
Two seats on the Mesilla Board of Trustees were also up for grabs and were won by incumbent Jesus Caro and newcomer Linda Flores. Caro finished with 451 votes, Flores finished with 423, Kathleen Foreman finished with 314, Christopher Alexander finished with 231, Carolyn Dixon finished with 209 and Dennis Burn finished with 122.
Caro said he was pleased by his re-election and the victory by Barraza, who has been a trustee for 11 years and is the mayor pro-tem.
“I think that things are going to start looking up,” he said
Cadena had been dogged in recent years by some controversial incidents, including the firing of former Mesilla Marshal Angelo Vega. And in 2007, he was investigated by the district attorney’s office but not charged after a Friday-evening outing to the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in an unmarked police vehicle.
The vehicle Cadena drove to the casino is a seized vehicle that federal regulations state can’t be used for any purpose that’s not law-enforcement related. The vehicle’s siren blared when Cadena pulled up to the casino before he drove around other vehicles to the front of the valet-parking line.
And when police found Cadena in the facility 45 minutes after he arrived, he failed field sobriety tests and they refused to let him drive the vehicle home.
The district attorney said after investigating that there were no charges to pursue and no policies in Mesilla that prohibited what Cadena did.
“People just got tired of what was going on,” Caro said tonight of Cadena.
“I think the town of Mesilla is ready for a change. Michael had been mayor for the last 12 years,” she said. “The residents were just ready for a change and ready to go in a new direction.”
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