Facing heavy criticism for his treatment of women and calls from top leaders in his own party to resign, Doña Ana County Commissioner John Vasquez stepped down on Thursday.
Vasquez, a Democrat, submitted his resignation in a letter to County Commission Chair Ben Rawson. It will be up to Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, to appoint someone to serve out Vasquez’s term, which runs through 2020. (Read Vasquez’s resignation letter here.)
“I need to focus on my marriage, my family, and my health,” Vasquez wrote in the letter. “Thus, I am resigning from the County Commission effective immediately.”
Vasquez has often berated people — most often women — on social media since he was elected in 2016. Scrutiny of his behavior ramped up in January when he took shots at the mother of a female activist on Facebook during a discussion of political endorsements. (Disclosure: Vasquez has also berated this reporter’s girlfriend.)
That activist, Johana Bencomo, filed a formal complaint with the county commission. Area residents staged a protest against Vasquez and another county official, then-Undersheriff Ken Roberts, who was later fired for sexually harassing an employee.
Pressure built earlier this month when the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, Neomi Martinez-Parra, alleged in a letter to state party Chair Richard Ellenberg that she had been the victim of Vasquez’s “inappropriate sexual misconduct.” She has not disclosed publicly any details about that allegation, but it prompted a number of state Democratic Party officials — including Ellenberg and New Mexico’s two U.S. senators — to call for Vasquez’s resignation.
Vasquez blasted the Democratic officials and the news media in his resignation letter.
“I am amazed and disappointed how people like Neomi Martinez-Parra can make completely unsubstantiated claims,” he wrote. “She gave no evidence and has refused to even mention any specific incident. Yet the media and the Democrat Party have had a field day with it.”
He wrote that he stood by his previous assertion that he has “done nothing to merit the allegation” from Martinez-Parra.
“She has ruined my career, my name, and hurt my marriage over allegations for which she has refused to provide any basis,” Vasquez wrote. “There is no justice or honor in what the Democrat party has done.”
Vasquez could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Vasquez, a military veteran, disclosed in his resignation letter that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been receiving treatment from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He wrote that the Democratic Party “has shown that they do not have compassion for individuals with PTSD, and they don’t care about the truth.”
He wrote that he hopes his resignation will allow the county commission “to go back to focusing on what Doña Ana County needs to improve the lives of our residents with whom I have served diligently and with honor.”
“I regret that I won’t be able to see more done both to bring job opportunities for our residents and to support our military,” Vasquez wrote. “I hope that with my resignation the Commission will remember to keep both at the forefront of each and every decision.”
Rawson confirmed that Vasquez gave him a copy of his resignation letter Thursday evening. He said he passed the letter on to the governor’s office.
“I wish John the best on his next endeavors,” Rawson said.
This article has been updated.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on NMPolitics.net.