Where is Sunland Park Mayor Martin Resendiz?
That's what many people are asking after almost four months of Resendiz not showing up for work. City officials said they haven't seen him since the October City Council meeting.
At city hall, the receptionist said she can't remember the last time Resendiz was actually in the building. His father opened the door at Resendiz's home and said Resendiz was not there. When asked about his son's absence as mayor, Resendiz's father said he doesn't know anything about it. ABC-7 also placed several phone calls to Resendiz' cell phone but he did not pick up or call back.
In August, controversy surrounded Resendiz after he admitted to signing contracts for work with an architectural design firm after having drinks with company executives for several hours. The news garnered national and even international attention. Officials said Resendiz missed several City Council meetings after that.
City councilors accused Resendiz of being an alcoholic at a September City Council meeting. Local business owner Robert Ardovino, who used to be very involved in Sunland Park politics, said that's the last time he saw the mayor.
"Unfortunately, the last time I saw the mayor wasn't in a very good light. I was at that late-night City Council meeting where many of the councilors were accusing him of being drunk," Ardovino told ABC-7. "The police had to sit everyone down. It was like nothing I'd ever seen in politics in a formal, open public meeting."
Ardovino said he hasn't gone to City Council meetings recently because he noticed the mayor stopped attending and nothing has been getting done.
"It's very unprofessional. There's no way anyone could consider bringing in business to the city right now. There's very few people with competence," Ardovino said.
Sunland Park City Manager Jaime Aguilera said the city has been running fine without Resendiz. Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Salinas has been running the city in Resendiz's absence. Aguilera told ABC-7 there is no set number of hours the mayor must work.
"There's no policy or rule that requires his presence. He will be out of office in less than two weeks, so at this point, it's somewhat moot," Aguilera said.
Aguilera also said the mayor is still getting paid his salary, despite his absence. The mayor makes $26,000 a year.
As for those residents who are upset with Resendiz's absence, Aguilera said no one has made an effort to get the mayor removed from office, and it's too late now, anyway.
"It is late. Even several months ago, it was too late because, as you know from the recall efforts in El Paso, you can have a recall effort but it takes a long time before the election actually takes place," Aguilera said.
Elections for Resendiz's replacement will be held March 6.