After narrowing it down to three final nominees, the Valencia County Commission selected a replacement for the outgoing Valencia County treasurer, who will take the oath of office as a magistrate in January.
County Treasurer Deseri Sichler was elected to the Valencia County Magistrate Division III position in November, meaning the commission had to appoint a replacement for the two years remaining in her term.
On a 4-1 vote, Tuesday, Nov. 29, the commissioners selected Ronald Saiz, a Republican, the county’s senior code enforcement officer, to be the next treasurer.
Saiz was one of eight candidates who submitted letters of interest to the county commission. Orlando Santillanes, who Sichler appointed as her chief deputy in September, and former county clerk Peggy Carabajal were also nominated for the position.
Valencia County Commissioner Jhonathan Aragon nominated Saiz with a second from Commissioner Troy Richardson. Commissioner David Hyder nominated Carabajal, with a second also from Richardson, and commission chairman Gerard Saiz nominated Santillanes, with a second from Commissioner Joseph Bizzell.
In the vote for Santillanes, Hyder, Richardson and Aragon voted no, with Saiz and Bizzell in favor. For Carabajal, Richardson, Hyder and Saiz voted yes, while it was a no from Bizzell and Aragon. Hyder was the lone no vote for Saiz.
Before the vote, Richardson asked Saiz how the county’s abatement program would continue to run if he was appointed to the position. In the last year, Saiz has spearheaded the abatement program, which forces property owners to tear down or repair dangerous buildings across the county.
When Saiz took on the abatement program, he wanted to take ownership of it but he wasn’t the only code enforcement officer in the department who works on the program, he said.
“All the other officers are involved. I have a plan that if I was to leave, there would be continuity and they will keep the ball rolling,” Saiz told the commissioners. “I’m not worried about that at all; abatement will continue.”
Saiz grew up in Peralta, and after graduating from Los Lunas High School in 1984, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He served for more than 28 years in the Air Force and the Air National Guard, retiring as a chief master sergeant.
“I had the opportunity to lead numerous positions. As the resource manager, I executed an annual budget of $7 million,” he told the commissioners.
After the vote, Saiz said moving from code enforcement to the treasurer’s position wasn’t that much of a surprise — to him at least. During his nearly three decades in the military, Saiz wasn’t doing the same thing for long.
“I didn’t stay in one position. I moved to progress and change rank,” he said. “After I got out, I found I had the ability to work well with others and I’m not afraid to ask questions.”
When he steps into his new role, Saiz will be looking to the people in the treasurer’s office for their expertise.
“I have to get to know their personalities, see how things work,” he said. “I’m going to rely on the experts who are already there; there’s no reason to make changes that don’t need to be made.”
Saiz’s appointment won’t take effect until after Sichler’s official resignation on Dec. 31, and he takes the oath of office.
Other applicants who submitted letters of interest to the commission for the position included former county employee Angie Womack, current Valencia County Assessor Beverly Romero, who lost her bid for reelection in November, James Sublett of Belen, office manager for the treasurer’s office Johnnie Ulibarri and Russell Schmidt, a former county employee who worked for the public works department and was a chief deputy treasurer.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.