'People here got tired of me.' Andy Nuñez loses reelection bid for Hatch mayor

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News
Andy Nunez, mayor of the village of Hatch, discuss the shooting of police officer José Chavez, Wednesday Aug. 9, 2017.

This story was updated at 10:09 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3

In the northern Doña Ana County village of Hatch, branded as the "chile capital of the world," Mayor Andy Nuñez appeared to be losing a reelection bid for mayor.

With all precincts reporting in Tuesday's local elections, Nuñez trailed Hatch Trustee James "Slim" Whitlock by seven votes.

Of the 120 votes cast in the contest, Nuñez had 35 votes, or 29 percent. Whitlock had 42 votes, or 35 percent, according to unofficial results.

According to his bio on the village website, Whitlock was born in what is now Truth or Consequences and graduated from Hatch Valley High School in 1977. He has previously served on the board of the Hatch Valley Public Schools and has been a trustee since 2012.

Neither Nuñez nor Whitlock could be reached Tuesday night. 

On Wednesday morning, Nuñez indicated his long political career — during which he held public office as a Democrat, Republican and an independent — was over. 

"I think that 21 years has been long enough," he said. "I guess the people here got tired of me." 

The four-way contest for mayor also featured Trustee Dennis Torres, who drew 32 votes; and Roberto "Bobby" Torres with 11 votes.

Nuñez, 85, is a former state Representative who was appointed mayor in 2013 by the Hatch board of trustees following the death of third-term Mayor Judd Nordyke. He was subsequently elected in 2014 with 61 percent of the vote, according to Sun-News archives.

A sign stands at the entrance of Hatch at the annual Hatch Chile Festival on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.

First elected to the state House as a Democrat in 2000, Nuñez disaffiliated and ran as an independent in 2012, losing to Democrat Philip Archuleta. In 2014 — while serving as Hatch's mayor — he ran for the District 36 legislative seat again, this time as a Republican, and unseated Archuleta. 

Nuñez served one more term in the state House before losing the seat to Democrat Nathan Small in 2016, at a time that he faced ethics complaints over his handling of campaign funds. He returned to the mayor's office in March 2018. While the office is a four-year job, he faced re-election this year because of election reforms passed by the state Legislature in 2018 which enabled consolidated county elections.

Although he returned to the mayor's office in 2018, Nuñez faced reelection Tuesday because of election reforms passed by the state Legislature in 2018 that enabled consolidated elections.

Casey Crist and Robert Martinez both won terms on the village's Board of Trustees, with Crist having served since 2018, when he won a seat on the board as a write-in candidate. 

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Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.