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Rio Arriba County manager’s contract not renewed

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Campos’ years of service as county manager. Incorrect information was provided by the county.

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Rio Arriba County commissioners voted Monday not to renew the contract of County Manager Tomas Campos who has worked for the county for 25 years, and in the position of manager since 2010.

In a special meeting Monday, the commission voted 2-1 to replace Campos as county manager before immediately offering the position to Lucia Sanchez, a water planning program manager for the Office of the State Engineer.

There will be no job posting or application process for the county manager position, Commissioner James Martinez said.

Commissioner Christine Bustos, the lone dissenting vote in Monday’s decision, said Martinez and Commissioner Moises Morales had gone into Monday’s meeting with the intent of removing Campos from his position.

“They had previously decided to terminate Mr. Campos and they had a candidate already picked out,” Bustos said, adding that Campos was removed for political reasons. “I was blindsided until today.”

Martinez maintains the commission acted in full transparency.

He said the decision to not post the job was to ensure a “smooth transition” between managers, since Campos was nearing retirement. However, he did not specify why the majority of the three-person commission felt a transition was necessary.

“County Manager Campos was preparing for retirement and the commission thought we would begin the transition process sooner rather than later,” he said.

Campos, who earns a salary of $120,000 per year, declined to comment.

Human Resources Director Annabelle Almager said county staff did not know the decision was coming.

“I think we were all caught by surprise,” Almager said.

Campos’ tenure as manager was not without controversy. In 2015, the County Commission suspended him for a week after a commissioner’s brother was awarded a county contract, the Rio Grande SUN reported at the time.

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