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New lawsuit filed over NM Senate vacancy

A New Mexico Senate vacancy caused by the resignation of Phil Griego has prompted more legal action.

Four Senate District 39 residents filed a lawsuit today in the Santa Fe district court today, attempting to prevent Gov. Susana Martinez from naming a replacement for Griego until at least Friday.

Specifically, the complaint asks a judge to order county commissioners in the six counties encompassed in the district to adhere to a state law that requires agendas for public meetings to be posted at least 72 hours in advance.

Each of the six county commissions — Santa Fe, San Miguel, Bernalillo, Torrance, Lincoln and Valencia — are holding meetings to formally submit names for the governor’s consideration.

In addition, the complaint also asks a judge to bar Gov. Susana Martinez from choosing a replacement for Griego until all six counties have submitted names for her consideration.

A Martinez spokesman had previously told the Journal the Republican governor might not wait for all six counties to act.

The four plaintiffs listed on today’s lawsuit are Richard Garcia of Valencia County, Eric Tyson of Santa Fe County, Jean Coulton of Lincoln County and Fred Sanchez of Torrance County.

“We’re seeking clarification from the court on how the process should be conducted and believe patience and diligence will serve the citizens of SD 39 far better than partisan motivated haste,” Tyson said in a statement.

The development comes one day after three different Senate District 39 residents filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court, requesting Supreme Court justices either order the four counties that have not yet held meetings to do so promptly or compel Martinez to pick from the two names submitted to date.

That petition was filed by Paul Kienzle, an Albuquerque attorney who was appointed to the state Game Commission by Martinez.

Griego, a San Jose Democrat, resigned from the Senate on Saturday due to ethics violations that hinged on his role in the sale of a historic state-owned building.

For more background on the issue, click here.

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