Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima released on Thursday the names of three city manager candidates interviewed a week ago.
Whether the city will also release those candidates’ applications — and applications submitted by dozens of other people — remains to be seen.
The city initially said it wasn’t going to release the three names. But after the Las Cruces Sun-News and NMPolitics.net called into question the legality of secrecy, Miyagishima directed the city’s private search firm to notify the three candidates he was releasing their names.
The candidates interviewed a week ago are:
- Mike Gallagher, the manager for Lea County, N.M.
- Ruth Osuna, assistant city manager for Brownsville, Texas
- Dave Strahl, former assistant village manager for Mount Prospect, Illinois
Before releasing the names, Miyagishima said the three interviews didn’t lead to the city naming finalists for its city manager job and the search would continue. After releasing the names Miyagishima said none of the three have been eliminated from consideration. But Gallagher has decided to withdraw his name, the Sun-News reported.
Las Cruces is seeking someone to replace outgoing City Manager Robert Garza, who is retiring later this month.
The city has received about 50 applications for the job. NMPolitics.net has filed a formal request under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act asking for access to all applications. The city is legally required to respond early next week.
Miyagishima said the decision on whether to release applications submitted by the three candidates he named and all other applicants would be up to the city’s attorneys.
The city’s search firm initially told applicants their names would be confidential unless they were picked as finalists — which the city has yet to name. And City Councilor Jack Eakman has said releasing names might discourage some qualified people from applying.
But, as NMPolitics.net reported on Wednesday, the N.M. Court of Appeals rejected such arguments years ago when the City of Farmington tried to keep its city manager applications secret.
“…when, as here, the application is for a high-ranking public position, the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs the City’s concern that fewer people will apply, and, thus, disclosure is required,” the Court ruled in 2009 in upholding a district judge’s order to release city manager applications in Farmington.
Susan Boe, director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said all applications for Las Cruces city manager need to be released.
“All the information is public,” she said.