Rachael Black vies to Defeat Karl Melton for Otero County Treasurer


Deputy Otero County Treasurer Rachael Black seeking Treasurers Position Challenged by former City Commission appointee Karl Melton (AlamogordoTownNews.com)

In Otero County, New Mexico the county treasurer manages the county budget funded by taxpayer dollars, including property tax and other county revenues. The treasurer is elected for a four-year term and is limited to two terms. The treasurers does not make decisions on the allocation of funds nor sets policy on tax spending. The role is the property tax collector and investment Officer for public funds Otero County.

As a tax collector, the treasurer bills and collects current and delinquent taxes, including taxes on real property, personal property, manufactured homes and miscellaneous monies from all Departments. The treasurer works closely with the Assessor who certifies the rates for all of taxes and obligations due to be collected. Accurate records must be kept

The Treasurer’s office serves as the “County Banker” and is responsible for collecting and depositing monies from property tax collection and from all operations of County departments i.e. Clerks, DWI, Compliance, Sheriffs fees and other services the County may provide.

The treasurer disburses tax collection on the 15th of each month to appropriate governmental agencies and keeps all books and records readily available for review by any taxpayer, the county commission, the State Department of Finance and the Auditors.

As the Investment Officer for the County the Treasurer is also responsible for all invests of public funds for the county the treasurer invests funds based on the rules, regulations, statutes of the state and the county.

Otero County Chief Deputy Treasurer, Rachel Black is seeking election to the position of Otero County Treasurer. Black has worked as the Otero County Chief Deputy Treasurer for the last eight years, but she said she has been training for this mantle for the last 16.

She earned her New Mexico Certified Treasury Official certification through New Mexico State University and was awarded the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Award for Conservative Achievement.

"We have collected over 97% of all billed property taxes. My keen knowledge and understanding of the Otero County Investment Portfolio, which brags an impressive $62 million, will prove useful as I continue to be a safe keeper of these funds and investments. I have a thorough grasp of the cash flow for the county and know how important a secure and ironclad portfolio is for the county and its future. On top of property tax collection, the county treasurer accounts for 144 different funds," she said in her news release announcing her candidacy earlier this month.

Black said she is trained in the bookkeeping and accounting needed to "keep these books balanced."

She emphasized the importance of having experience in a position such as this. She said there would be no "learning curve" as she knows how to handle all of the work.

"I agree that new faces and fresh ideas are important in policy making positions, like County and City Commissioners. However, in elected, administrative offices, like the county treasurer, lack of experience can cause costly mistakes, possibly harming the taxpayers or the county itself," she said.

Black is endorsed by two previous Otero County treasurers, Grace Gonzalez and Cathe Prather, including the current Otero County Treasurer Laura Whiteside.

"Rachel Black has been my Chief Deputy Treasurer during my entire term as county treasurer; she has been a blessing to me, my office and to the taxpayers. She has a great knowledge of the office and the laws by which we must abide," Whiteside said in a release.

Black is facing of challenger Karl Melton in the Republican primary in June. Rachael Black of Alamogordo has a long deep roots in Alamogordo with significant experience within the systems of government and the treasurers office with years of local support within her party.

Karl Melton is a transplant originally from California, and the domestic partner of John Black. His partner John Block and Melton, moved together to Alamogordo and soon after, Melton was appointed to the position of City Commissioner. He was defeated, in the election by the people of his district, to the well known, Rev. Warren Robinson with many years of experience in service to the citizens of Alamogordo.

Melton holds a master’s in public administration from Liberty University, from the east coast, and is completing a master's degree in finance.

The Alamogordo News reported of Melton's announcement to run that he said, Now is not the time to recycle the same career politicians in this role who have done nothing but harm our county’s reputation,” said Melton. “Otero County deserves a responsible, hard-working treasurer who always puts the taxpayers first.”

Otero County Treasurer Laura Whiteside's current term, her second, ends this year per term limits in place for that position.

"The office is such an important position that I don't think people realize that these elected administrative positions are so important, you know. We don't make policy, we follow statute," Whiteside said in an interview with the Alamogordo News.

Melton along with his domestic partner John Block have been lightening rods of controversy such as their attacks and misinformation campaign against Mayor Susan Payne calling her "pro abortion" which was a falsehood, when Melton introduced controversial measures to declare Alamogordo a "Sanctuary City for the Unborn." The resolutions introduced were opposed by many with concerns it could place the city of Alamogordo into court, costing taxpayers thousands. An effort to push the issue to referendum failed and the city decided not to take further action on the matter.

The administrative roles in public office such as treasurer, should not be politicized is the belief of many individuals and the run between Melton and Black will be interesting.

Melton has never been elected to political office by the people. Whereas Rachael Black was elected to the state legislature and served the county from 2019 to 2022.

Black was barely defeated by just 49 votes in the 2022 Republican primary for representative by Karl Melton's, domestic partner John Block . That a race that turned dirty in tone and asserting by John Block and Melton, with Melton running the Block campaign as treasurer. The Block campaign was significantly financed, by interests outside of Otero County, and the tone of the campaign was hostile at times by the Block/Melton machine.

Candidates certified for the ballots will be announced this week for the June 2024 primary election. As of this printing no opponent as Independent nor Democrat has filed to challenge the winner of this Republican primary in Otero County for the office of Treasurer.

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