A candidate running for the District 2 seat on the Socorro County Commission was appointed as the new city manager in Belen. 

Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova appointed Retired Gen. Andrew Salas, of Bernardo, located in northern Socorro County, to the position last week, and the council unanimously voted to approve the appointment.

Salas, a Republican, is running against Democrat Craig Secatero, a member of the Alamo community. The retired New Mexico National Guard general said he decided to run for the seat, currently held by his wife, Martha, who has served in the position for eight years.

“My wife, Martha, is termed out, and I had been looking to see if someone was interested in following her,” Salas said.

When he couldn’t find anyone run, Salas decided to throw his hat into the political ring. When asked if he thought it could be a conflict of interest being Belen’s city manager and a Socorro County commissioner if elected, Salas said he didn’t think so.

“I’m in full agreement with the mayor and the city council that my heart and soul is with the city manager’s position,” Salas said in an interview with the Valencia County News-Bulletin. “After carefully analyzing what a commissioner’s duties are, I don’t believe there is a conflict of interest if elected. In fact, I think it would be complementary arrangement if elected.”

Cordova agrees, saying he doesn’t have any concerns about Salas running for a seat on the neighboring county commission.

“I don’t have any concern whatsoever,” Cordova said. “There’s not a whole lot of interaction between what’s going on in Socorro and what’s happening up here. I think it will be a good relationship.”

And if Salas loses the race, he says he has full confidence in Secatero’s abilities to serve District 2 and the county.

“He’s a wonderful guy, a great member of the Alamo community,” Salas said of Secatero. “I told him if he does win, I would do anything I could to help him.”

Salas was born and raised in Bernardo, graduated from Belen High School, and spent his entire life in northern Socorro County except during his military assignments.

He continues to work the family farm, which they raise forage for animals.

Salas served 38 years in the New Mexico National Guard, and rose to the ranks of brigadier general, a position he was appointed to by former Gov. Susanna Martinez.

After leaving the Guard, Salas served in the southern command for the U.S. Air Force overseeing the nation’s cooperation of military in Central and South America.

For several months after, he was the chief executive officer for the Alamo Navajo School Board, Inc. He then went to Washington, D.C., to work as a special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Salas also holds a master’s degree in government studies and international relations from the Naval Post Graduate School.