531 P.2d 1203 (N.M. 1975), 10038, State ex rel. Gonzales v. Manzagol

Docket Nº:10038.
Citation:531 P.2d 1203, 87 N.M. 230, 1975 -NMSC- 002
Opinion Judge:[9] Oman
Party Name:STATE of New Mexico ex rel. Edward GONZALES, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Jerry MANZAGOL, State Personnel Director, S. E. Reynolds, State Engineer, and the State of New Mexico, Respondents-Appellees.
Attorney:Arthur H. Coleman, Bob Barberousse, Sante Fe, for petitioner-appellant., David L. Norvell, Atty. Gen., W. Royer, Asst. Atty. Gen., Sante Fe, for respondents-appellees. [6] Arthur H. Coleman, Bob Barberousse, Santa Fe, for petitioner-appellant. [7] David L. Norvell, Atty. Gen., W. Royer, Asst. At...
Judge Panel:STEPHENSON and MONTOYA, JJ., concur.
Case Date:January 31, 1975
Court:Supreme Court of New Mexico

Page 1203

531 P.2d 1203 (N.M. 1975)

87 N.M. 230, 1975 -NMSC- 002

STATE of New Mexico ex rel. Edward GONZALES, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Jerry MANZAGOL, State Personnel Director, S. E. Reynolds,

State Engineer, and the State of New Mexico,

Respondents-Appellees.

No. 10038.

Supreme Court of New Mexico.

January 31, 1975

Arthur H. Coleman, Bob Barberousse, Sante Fe, for petitioner-appellant.

David L. Norvell, Atty. Gen., W. Royer, Asst. Atty. Gen., Sante Fe, for respondents-appellees.

OPINION

OMAN, Justice.

Petitioner Gonzales sought to have Respondents Manzagol, State Personnel Director (Director), and Reynolds, State Engineer (Engineer), prohibited from discharging Petitioner from his employment by the State. He failed in the district court, and has appealed. We affirm.

At all material times, Petitioner was a resident and duly qualified elector of the City and County of Sante Fe and an employee[87 N.M. 231]

Page 1204

of the State of New Mexico as a Water Resource Assistant in the Office of the Engineer. This was a non-exempt (classified) position under the State Personnel Act, §§ 5--4--28 to 5--4--46, inclusive, N.M.S.A.1953 (Repl. Vol. 2, pt. 1, 1974), and was governed by the rules and regulations of the State Personnel Board.

On about January 9, 1974, Petitioner was appointed to and began serving on the Sante Fe City Council, which is the governing body of the City. On January 29, he became a candidate for election to that office, ran with a slate of candidates known and designated on the election ballot as 'Volunteers for Sante Fe,' was elected, and is presently serving and intends to continue serving as a City Councilman. The Director and the Engineer propose to dismiss Petitioner from his State employment as a Water Resource Assistant pursuant to § 5--4-- 42(B), N.M.S.A.1953 (Repl. Vol. 2, pt. 1, 1974).

Petitioner relies upon four points for reversal. The first is his claim that he is not prohibited by § 5--4--42(B), supra, from continuing his State employment while simultaneously serving as a City Councilman. This section of our statutes provides:

'No person in the personnel office, or employee in the service (an employee covered by the Personnel Act, supra), shall hold political office or be an officer of a political organization during his employment. For the purposes of the Personnel Act * * *, being a member of a local school board shall not be construed to be holding political office, and being an election official shall not be construed to be either holding political office, or being an officer of a political organization. Nothing in the Personnel Act shall deny employees the right to vote as they choose and to express their opinion on political subjects or candidates.'

There is no question about Petitioner's being an employee covered by the Personnel Act, or that he sought and now occupies the office of City Councilman. However, he does claim that the office of City Councilman is not a 'political office.' Whether or not this is a 'political office' depends entirely upon what is meant by 'political' within the contemplation of the proscription contained in § 5--4--42(B), supra.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged 1755 (1961) defines 'political' as:

'la: of or relating to government, a government, or the conduct of governmental affairs b: of or relating to matters of government as distinguished from matters of law * * * c: engaged in civil as distinguished from military functions * * * d: of, relating to, or concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy.'

'Political' is defined in 3 Bouvier's Law Dictionary 2626 (3d rev. ed. 1914) as follows:

'Pertaining to policy, or the administration of government. Political rights are those which may be exercised in the formation and administration of the government: they are distinguished from civil rights, which are the rights which a man enjoys as regards other individuals, and not in relation to the government.'

A 'political office' is defined in Black's Law Dictionary 1235 (4th rev. ed. 1968) as:

'Civil offices are usually divided into three classes,--political, judicial, and ministerial. Political offices are such as are not immediately connected with the administration of justice, or with the execution of the mandates or a superior, such as the president or the head of a department.'

The governing body of the City of Santa Fe consists of the Mayor and Councilmen. Section 14--101--2(D), N.M.S.A.1953 (Repl. Vol. 3, 1968). The powers and duties of this governing body are enumerated in §§ 14--11--3, 14--11--4, N.M.S.A.1953 (Repl. Vol. 3, 1968).

[87 N.M. 232]

Page 1205

Although Petitioner did not run as a nominee of a generally recognized, continuing political party, no such limitation is provided in § 5--4--42(B), supra. He did run as a member of an organized slate of candidates which adopted a name and a platform, solicited funds to support the election of the slate, and advertised as a slate.

It is apparent to us that the office which Petitioner sought, to which he was elected, and which he now holds, clearly falls within the definition of a 'political office.' Accord, Norton v. Letton, 271 Ky. 353, 111 S.W.2d 1053 (1937); State v. City of Cleveland, 33 N.E.2d 35 (Ohio App.1940); Moldoveanu v. Dulles, 168 F.Supp. 1 (E.D.Mich.1958). We cannot agree with Petitioner's contention that § 5--4--42(B), supra, was directed solely at the evil of organized political party activities. The language of the statute neither compels nor implies this construction of the term 'political.'

Petitioner next contends that the foregoing stated interpretation of § 5--4--42(B), supra, is prohibited by art. 7, § 2, subds. A and B of the New Mexico Constitution, which provides:

'Sec. 2 (Qualifications for holding office.)

'A. Every citizen of the United States who is a legal resident of the state and is a qualified elector therein, shall be qualified to hold any elective public office except as otherwise provided in this Constitution.

'B. The legislature may provide by law for such qualifications and standards as may be necessary for holding an appointive position by any public officer or employee.'

The argument is that to require him to resign his State employment is to impose an unconstitutional restriction on him as an elected public officer. He relies upon our holding in Givvany v. Ford, Mayor, et al., 29 N.M. 621, 225 P. 577 (1924). That holding has no relevancy to the issue in this case. No effort is being made to impose any restriction upon the elective public office which Petitioner holds or upon him as the holder of that office. It is his appointive position as a 'public officer or employee' which is in danger by his persistent action in holding a 'political office.' Clearly, the Legislature had the constitutional power under art. 7, § 2, subd. B, supra, to enact § 5--4--42(B), supra, and to thereby...

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