RIO COMMUNITIES—Holly Noelle Chavez has resigned her position as the municipal judge in Rio Communities.
In her letter of resignation to city manager Marty Moore and to the Rio Communities City Council, dated Jan. 23, Chavez wrote she was resigning effective Wednesday, Jan. 31.
“This decision was made with much consideration and has been on my mind for many months,” Chavez wrote. “I have truly loved being the municipal judge and have learned so much during my tenure with the city of Rio Communities.
“It has been a pleasure to watch our new city grow and see the city hall vision come to fruition. Our elected officials are so dedicated and have been a great support to me and the court.”
Moore told the council at Monday’s regular council meeting it was up to them how to proceed in how they would replace the judge.
Rio Communities Mayor Joshua Ramsell did put out a call for anyone interested in the position to send him their letter of interest.
In an email to the News-Bulletin, Chavez said she decided to resign “to be able to make a greater impact in the community.
“Once someone is in the position of municipal judge, they lose their freedom of speech. I see so many changes that need to be made in Valencia County that require advocacy and I would like to be in a position to do so,” Chavez wrote. “I appreciate the support I have had from the community in my three and half years as judge and hope to continue working with these partners to further the vision of equity amongst marginalized populations.”
In a phone interview with the News-Bulletin last week, Moore said because the city has a police department that issues citations, Police Chief Felix Nunez is working with the magistrate court in Belen and Judge John Chavez, Noelle Chavez’s father, so cases can be heard.
Moore said because the court hasn’t had a municipal court clerk for about a month or two, the court had been taking applications and the judge was in the process of reviewing them. Because the court is the judge’s department, whoever is appointed will hire a new court clerk.
“She has not convened court since she hasn’t had a clerk,” Moore said of the former judge.
Chavez, who is co-owner of H2 Academic Solutions in Belen, was elected as the municipal judge in Rio Communities in November 2021. She was appointed to the position in May 2020 after Heather Benavidez resigned from the position after she was appointed as a magistrate judge.
“I wish the City of Rio Communities and the Municipal Court the best of luck and will be available to assist in the transition of the new judge,” Chavez wrote in her email.
During Monday’s meeting, Councilors Tom Nelson and Matthew Marquez questioned why they weren’t informed immediately of Chavez’s resignation. Both said they received emails on Jan. 25, two days after the judge sent her letter of resignation. Marquez said he first learned of the resignation from a citizen earlier that day.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.