A recently elected Albuquerque city councilor contending he should be sworn into office immediately has now received his formal “certification of election” from the secretary of state — something he says cements his argument.
But the document issued Thursday does not change City Clerk Ethan Watson’s stance that Louie Sanchez cannot take office until Jan. 1.
Sanchez, who won a Nov. 2 race to represent the West Side-based District 1, said he should already be in office because he beat an incumbent, Lan Sena, who never won election and was instead appointed by Mayor Tim Keller after the sitting councilor died.
Sanchez argues the City Charter provides for him to take over after an election victory.
“The law is the law, and appointee City Clerk Ethan Watson must abide by it to rightfully and legally swear me into office today as the elected District 1 City Councilor replacing the Keller appointee currently filling the seat,” Sanchez said in a statement Friday.
But Watson — who earlier this week had cited the lack of a secretary of state certification as one reason he could not yet swear in Sanchez — maintains the recent election was always intended to determine four-year terms that begin Jan. 1, 2022 and not earlier.
“The City Clerk has made clear that Councilor-elect Sanchez’ term begins on January 1, pursuant to state and local law. The County Clerk’s Election Proclamation also made clear that that term Councilor-elect Sanchez ran for was 4 years, not more than four years, or to fill an un-expired term,” Watson said in a statement.