- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) - A former New Mexico Oil and Gas Association president has been named interim city manager of a troubled New Mexico border city that is working to put past scandals behind it while two councilors face legal problems.

The Sunland Park City Council voted 4-3 during a heated meeting to hire former New Mexico State University regent Bob Gallagher to a $56,000 six-month contract, KVIA-TV in El Paso reports (http://goo.gl/TwEiiR). Under the terms of the deal, Gallagher will work two weeks per month.

The vote comes as two Sunland Park city councilors face legal issues stemming from separate arrests.

One councilor was arrested recently during a council meeting on drug charges and another was arrested on allegations he gave beer to his 19-year-old girlfriend.

Councilor Sergio Carrillo voted against the hire and said Gallagher shouldn’t be getting full-time pay for part-time work. But Mayor Javier Perea said the city needs quality individuals and because of that he’s willing to pay quality salary.

Last year, Carrillo was taken into custody at city hall in connection with drug possession charges.

Carrillo, 29, was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia stemming from a previous traffic stop.

His attorney, Jess Lilley, said Carrillo has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Sunland Park has been without a full-time city manager for a year now, after the firing of Vernon Wilson.

Nearly 40 percent of people live below the poverty line in the city, where the main source of income comes from the Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. It’s the only American border city that sits south of the Rio Grande.

The city drew national attention in 2012 after former mayoral candidate Daniel Salinas was arrested for recording an opponent receiving a lap dance from a topless woman. Salinas pleaded guilty to extortion earlier this year.

The year before, former Mayor Martin Resendiz admitted he was drunk when he signed $1 million contracts with a California company.

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