Updated: November 07, 2019 03:50 PM
Created: November 06, 2019 06:57 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A convicted felon who is serving on the Questa Independent Schools Board has been voted out.
However, he plans to stay on the job until his term is up at the start of 2020.
Ellis Garcia was convicted of being part of an arson, a fire started in Taos County to defraud an insurance company.
Garcia was appointed to the school board to fill an open seat.
After learning Garcia, a convicted felon, held a position of trust, Attorney General Hector Balderas ordered him to resign immediately and end his campaign.
“There is no school board member in the state of New Mexico that can serve if they have a felony on their record,” Balderas said. “He has to resign.”
The attorney general pointed to a state statute. Section 10-1-2 states, "no person convicted of a felony, unless such person has been pardoned or restored to political rights, shall be qualified to be elected or appointed to any public office in this state.”
However, attorneys working for the Questa Independent Schools Board found a different state law that says the opposite.
The New Mexico constitution says, "Every citizen of the United States who is a legal resident, and is a qualified elector therein, shall be qualified to hold any public office."
The attorney argues that Garcia is a qualified elector since he served his sentence and his voting rights were restored.
Additionally, his attorney points to this letter from the Taos County clerk that qualified him to be on the ballot.
However, none of that will matter in the new year, when a new board member will take Garcia’s seat.
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