On Thursday, the Otero County Commission voted 2-1 against a resolution brought forth by Commissioner Couy Griffin, with the two other Republican commissioners, Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt, voting to reject the proposal.
Marquart claimed that the proposal would “pit” Sheriff David Black against State Police, while Matherly claimed the county would be liable for COVID-19 deaths.
Marquart said, “I think we’re real close to opening, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to do this to our businesses right now, and I certainly don’t agree with this part about pitting our county sheriff against the state police,” Marquardt said. “They support each other. They back each other up. And then you want them to fight over this stuff? I won’t support that.”
“You go out and you talk in front of the TV about opening the county which just puts a target on all of our backs,” Marquardt said to Griffin. “And instead of helping our businesses, now they’re just focused in on that. I just, I can’t believe you did that.”
Matherly said, “If there is a person, his mom gets sick, she dies because she said the commissioners of Otero County said we don’t have to do any of this, then they’re going to turn right around and sue us for mega millions, and they’ll win.”
Both Matherly and Marquart have previously called for Griffin’s resignation after the “Cowboys for Trump” leader was arrested for being outside of the U.S. Capitol during the January 6th incursion. Griffin did not go inside the building, according to the FBI.
In defense of the resolution’s rejection by the commission, Commissioner Griffin said, “Maybe I am the bad guy and maybe I am the troublemaker,” Griffin said. “And the one that causes y’all so much distress that maybe I should just quit trying to fight … but if we’re scared and we’re coward to the state and live in fear then we’re going to go further and further and deeper and deeper into bondage.”
According to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary Nora Sackett, she claims the resolution, if it had passed, would not affect the county’s reopening status, which is currently in the “Yellow” phase with 33% indoor dining capacity.
“New Mexico emergency public health orders carry the full weight of law throughout the state.” She added, “Otero County residents can continue to progress in their fight against the virus by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and registering for and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn.”