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Lawsuit filed against Jemez electric co-op

SANTA FE – The board of trustees of the Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative is being sued by some of its member-owners over the results of a recent election.

Meanwhile, another member of the co-op is alleging that the president of the board improperly touched her at an Española bar nearly a year ago.

Five member-owners of the co-op – including former trustee Bruce Duran and Patrick Herrera, who ran for a different position on the board – filed an emergency petition for injunctive relief in Santa Fe district court on July 17. It claims that the board deemed Duran to be unqualified to represent District 6 Ward B because he had not paid his electric bill on a “continuous” basis, even though his wife sometimes paid the couple’s electric bill from her personal account.

The suit says that action to remove Duran violates the co-op’s bylaws, “as well as violates the trust of the members of JMEC from District 6 Ward B that duly elected Mr. Duran to represent them as trustee.”

It also states that Herrera should be declared the rightful winner of the election in District 4 Ward A because Lucas Cordova, who received the most votes, does not live in the ward.

The lawsuit asks the court to rule that the board incorrectly removed Duran, who ran unopposed, from his position on the board, and that Herrera be declared the duly elected trustee to the seat awarded to Cordova.

Attorneys for the board responded to the lawsuit two days later, saying the plaintiffs failed to establish that a legitimate emergency circumstance exists.

“Plaintiffs have not been irreparably prejudiced because they have not provided any verified facts explaining why the court must act immediately to prevent a severe harm to them,” it says.

In another matter, co-op member Tracy D. Lopez says she signed an affidavit and filed a report with Española police alleging that then-83-year-old JMEC board president Nick Naranjo propositioned her and aggressively grabbed her buttocks at an Española bar on Aug. 1, 2018.

“The behavior exhibited by Nick Naranjo in this Affidavit is not only illegal and unethical, it also violates JMEC’s Code of Conduct and ethics policies,” she wrote in a letter to the co-op on Wednesday. She said she submitted the affidavit and filed the police report in order to bring attention to Naranjo’s public intoxication, “which often leads to violations of his fiduciary duties.”

Efforts to reach Naranjo by phone were unsuccessful and he did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

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