EL PASO, Texas - The former city manager of Sunland Park told ABC-7 he is shocked and saddened after he was fired during Tuesday night's city council meeting.
Bob Gallagher confirmed with the ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom councilors voted 4 to 1 to terminate his contract.
"I was surprised, sadly," Gallagher said. "Surprised and shocked."
Gallagher, a former NMSU board regent, had been city manager for 18 months. His contract had been extended by two years in January 2017, which was set to expire in January 2019. His contract called for a one year option to extend. He was earning $8,000 monthly.
Gallagher told ABC-7 that the city councilors were asking him to do illegal things that made him feel uncomfortable.
“The city is reverting back to its old ways," Gallagher said. "The old, 'Good ol’ boy' way, and that’s sad."
No explanation was given for the termination, Gallagher said. He told the New Mexico Mobile Newsroom that he was proud of the work he and his staff had done during his tenure.
"I’m very proud of what we’ve done in the eighteen months," Gallagher said. "First of all, I think we threw out the old culture, the old 'movida' if you will, and built a great leadership team."
“I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about," said City Councilor Kenneth Giove, who accused Gallagher of "screwing around" in county politics.
"As old as I am, when you recognize that there’s a problem, you take care of it as fast as you possibly can," Giove said. "It took a while for people to come to the realization, and once they realized it, they realized they had a problem, we took care of it. We’re not going to let this sh** happen. It’s not going to happen anymore."
"They need to root out that evil and get back on track or they’re going to be the same old city that they’ve been," Gallagher said. "And that’s the laughing stock of the state and I hope they don’t revert to that."
The city manager oversees the day-to-day business of city operations, prepares recommendations and implements the policy direction approved by the Mayor and City Council, according to the city's website. Gallagher said he brought on six new department during his time with the city.
The City Manager is also responsible for the administration of city services and programs and oversees 80 employees and an annual budget of about $6 million, according to the Sunland Park city website.