Some say no conflict in Coss holding two jobs
Some disagree with the assertion that Santa Fe Mayor David Coss will have a conflict of interest if he is elected to the N.M. House.
In a recent article published by NMPolitics.net, a political science professor was quoted as saying it would be “fundamentally problematic” for Santa Fe Mayor David Coss to also serve as a state representative.
“How do you balance the needs of the state over the needs of your city and your residents?” UNM Political Science Professor Lonna Atkeson questioned. “I don’t see how you can balance that.”
Others disagree and say there will be no conflict if Coss is elected to represent House District 46.
In an unsolicited e-mail, Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, said there’s no conflict. Here’s the statement she sent:
“Common Cause New Mexico doesn’t see anything inherently wrong with someone serving as a part-time mayor and also a part-time, unpaid Legislator. There is nothing in city or state law that prohibits someone from holding both offices, and our mission is to encourage all New Mexicans to become part of the political process. We believe there is nothing unethical about following the laws in our state, and we will continue to encourage all citizens, of any party, to become active participants in government. There are rules and ethical guidelines in place for all members of the Legislature, and the House and Senate ethics rules, ensure any conflicts of interest will be addressed.”
In addition, Coss’ campaign sent a statement from Fred Harris, a former U.S. senator and current UNM professor emeritus of political science, saying “of course not” in response to the question of whether there would be a conflict.
“Not according to New Mexico constitution and law. Not according to New Mexico history. (Jose Campos, Santa Rosa, is a recent example of successful and non-controversial service as both mayor and state legislator),” Harris said. “Not an improper ‘conflict of interest’ unless it would be improper to serve both as a legislator and, say, a federal lab or business employee, or even as a lawyer. Of course not.”
“And not when district voters themselves – they are the real deciders – know the facts and decide to elect a mayor as a state representative (because they think the person is best qualified and can best represent their interests),” he said.
Debate about debates
Meanwhile, Coss is complaining that his Democratic primary opponent, Carl Trujillo, has refused to debate him publicly. He issued this challenge Friday:
“Trujillo has asserted to the media that he will not participate in debates. He rejected an invitation from the Santa Fe County Democratic Party for a public debate, even though he’s running to represent Democrats. He did however attend a privately organized debate hosted by and for the New Mexico Realtors Association.”
Coss challenged Trujillo to accept an invitation to an upcoming debate proposed by The Santa Fe New Mexican. Trujillo’s campaign manager, Faith McKenna, told NMPolitics.net the realtors’ event was a “small community event, not a debate.”
“We received mayor Coss’ challenge. As you probably know already, our policy is to not engage in gladiator-style ‘debates’ where politicians bicker with each other while the people watch, and we aren’t yet seeing a way in which Mayor Coss’ proposed event would be different or healthier for our community.
“We’re interested in engaging with the community, and as such, we’re happy to give this event some thought, as we always give thought and consideration to any opportunity to engage with the community (such as the realtors’ forum, which was an honest, non-politically motivated forum and not a spectacle arranged to score political points.).
“That said, the word ‘challenge’ in the title of Mayor Coss’ press release is troubling, as it indicates that what Coss really wants isn’t an honest dialogue of benefit to (and including) the people, but rather an adversarial situation designed to score political points for his campaign.”
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