The Democratic Party of Otero County Eats Their Own for Non-Conformity

The Otero County Democratic Party promised change with a focus on eliminating bitter infighting and a renewed focus on electing Democrats in elections it held this spring. The was hope among membership of the old guard and it’s reign of questionable tactics and lack of wins being voted out and a new vision with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
The party put forth two candidates, women of passion that party members felt could set a new vision and make the party competitive in Otero County, a community that leans conservative and heavily Republican.

The race for chairperson was to replace Jeff Swanson a retired Veteran and part of the old boy system of Otero County. Swanson is recognized for his handlebar mustache and old school insights in an era of social engagement and a significantly changing landscape of social order. Swanson ran the local party as more of a social club than a community service political organization. Under his reign there was little community engagement excepting for when a hot button issue would pop up, or during the campaign season. Off season the party was all but dormant. It’s been absent on business development, assisting in volunteering for projects such as the Dudley School Hispanic Community Center Restoration Project nor other community outreach opportunities.

The great hope of the general membership of which a majority is passive non-participants was that change was about to happen and a breath of fresh air would ignite the party and re-engage those on the sidelines.

An election for a new chairperson went forth with candidates Monica Davalos running against Briana Martinez. Martinez was young early 20s and had served as a member of the executive committee. Davalos was an outsider offering a unique perspective and was endorsed by the Mescalero Apache Tribe thus a credible outsider that connected to the community that has been neglected from a role in leadership for years.

The race turned aggressive with the “old guard” going on the attack against a group of former insiders that wanted a distinct change.

That group of insiders included a recent candidate for magistrate, a former party chairwoman, members of past executive committees and rank and file members. The existing party executive committee at the time closed ranks. The then Vice Chair went on an aggressive campaign of attacking the member’s supporting Davalos, using extremist tactics of intimidation and weaponizing social media in an effort to discredit her and her supporters. The same individual even say in the parking lot at a rally for Davos to track who was entering for support of her. Creepy at a minimum, intimidating to several members attending. 

Of course these attacks occurred on the Vice chairpersons “personal Facebook page” thus making it so the party could distance itself from those attacks, and claim the then, Vice Chair was spouting his personal opposition and not speaking for the party.

The attacks became even more heated by this individual, he referred to the opposition of Martinez’s as, “a coup” and has since threatened further retaliation against “coup members.”

When leadership was approached about this irrational behavior and requested that leadership “tame the dialogue for the good of the party.  The request was was ignored.

The Democratic Party Code of Conduct that was in place at the time was critical of such behaviors, under the definition of “Honor” in the then published Otero County Code of Conduct.

The old code of conduct stated…
Under the DPOC code of conduct it states that duty requires individuals “to work harmoniously with others”

And under honor…
“We are accountable to fulfill legal responsibilities in public and personal life which reflects upon DPOC.”

A new leader Brianna Martinez was elected and there was great hope that the tone would change to one of reconciliation and a path forward to bring forth Democratic candidates that would be credible alternatives in upcoming races at the city and county level by DPOC.

At first it appeared there was a glimmer of hope and the younger leadership of Brianna Martinez would bring about the change and reconciliation so desperately wanted by the mainstream membership.

However, the influence of the old guard is still being felt. Instead of trying to reconcile with members of the “coup” the former Vice Chair is now treasurer and has been elevated to chairman of the candidate screening committee.

Thus potential candidates, such as Rene Sepulveda, who is considering a run for local office, would have to be screened by the same individuals that have attacked his staff on social media and threatened “coup members”’ “that it only gets worse from here.” 

Complaints of violations of the code of conduct were filed and the response under new leadership was not to conduct a fair independent investigation.

Instead the code of conduct committee was tasked with reviewing a complaint. The complaint named the former chairman and Vice chair. The investigation was then done by the Code of Conduct committee and the former chair is a member of that committee.

Fair and impartial? Absolutely not! A judgment is made by one of the accused. How is that reconciliation?

And then the icing on the cake in that scenario, is the leadership instead of holding the offending party responsible for their actions, instead the local Otero Democratic Party Leadership changed the part of the language in the code of conduct to remove the verbiage of which the accused violated. 

Thus, if the verbiage no longer exists then the responsible party is no longer responsible. A true shell game. Illegal no, unethical absolutely.

And the games continue…

The executive committee has sanctioned a former chairwoman and other members of the party that “questioned process and supported Ms. Davalos.”

Memorial Day weekend the DPOC chairwoman issues a statement, critical of social media concerns with DPOC and its inner workings. A message to convey hope that the local party is reorganizing, focused and expanding outreach.

The words sound good and would be encouraging, however the words of the chairwoman were immediately undermined in a post by the treasurer of DPOC.

Of course in his “personal page” regardless the post under minded the chairwoman.

The post had a link to the chairwoman’s statement and then linked to his statement with the threat to member of the “coup team” “it only gets worse from here on out for you”

Thus any effort at reconciliation, at focus on expanding Democratic outreach on outcomes to bring those moderates back into the fold were again undermined by members of the “old guard.”

There may be a new face in the leadership role, but that new face is not acting independently or bold enough to date, to stand up to the pressures of the old regime and reel in their tactics of the past few years. She could still do what is right and have the support of a majority of moderate and formerly disillusioned and disenfranchised Democratic members rejoin in an active role. But to make that happen would mean bold action against loyalists to her rise. History will reflect on this period of DPOC as a period of great strife and division. Will the chairwoman step up and rise to the challenge of collaboration in rebuilding a broken party? 

Instead the party is infested with a regime that is intent on destroying any semblance of reconciliation and stability between moderates, independents and those with opinions different than their own.

The Republican Party of Otero County. They are seated back laughing at the fact there is no credible threat to their grip on power in Otero County, New Mexico. 

As DPOC eats its own, would be ally’s in the upcoming elections are ostracized, attacked and pushed further away from any hope of mending fences and the Republicans of Otero County; they are focused on the issues that matter to locals, fundraising and gaining even more engagement.

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Chris, thank you for quantifying this for me. I thought that it was only me, as a victim of the eaters! I have dropped the Dems completely due to what you described. It is a sad situation.

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Sorry you have encountered such a difficult time from these people. They are not acting for the good of the party nor using methods of leadership that would be acceptable in any legitimately acceptable business.

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