Leisa Haynes
Terminated by city councilors

RIO COMMUNITIES—The city manager of Rio Communities was been placed on paid administrative leave, but there is no explanation for the decision.

Rio Communities Mayor Pro Tem Peggy Gutjahr confirmed she put Leisa Haynes on paid administrative leave on Thursday, Jan. 16. Gutjahr said she couldn’t comment about the reason why because it is a confidential personnel matter.

The city council met on Monday during a special meeting when a closed executive session took place to discuss Haynes performance evaluation. According to the posted agenda, the council was scheduled to take action.

“We did not take action at Monday’s meeting because I did not word it correctly (on the agenda),” Gutjahr said. “The action item needed to be more specific. It will be on the agenda for the next meeting.”

The city council’s next meeting is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Gutjahr said in the absence of the city manager, the councilors are taking on different, individual roles running the city. She also said Stephanie Finch, the city’s director of finance, and Lisa Adair, the city clerk, are running the city on a day-to-day basis.

“The city is in good hands and business is going on as usual,” Gutjahr said.

Haynes was appointed city manager in March 2019, having worked in several small cities in Oklahoma.

Gutjahr has been the acting mayor since Oct. 10 when Rio Communities Mayor Mark Gwinn took medical leave. At that time, the city put out a statement that Gwinn would return to his duties in January.

“At this point, the mayor is doing better,” Gutjahr said. “He continues to be on medical leave. Honestly, I don’t know when he’ll return to office. All of us are hoping he will have a full recovery.”

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin, as well as the executive editor of El Defensor Chieftain, the News-Bulletin's sister paper in Socorro.
Clara 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.