SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has resolved a dispute over the election of a sheriff in Lea County.
The court ruled Monday an election is necessary and the winner will fill the remainder of former Sheriff Rod Coffman’s term, which expires at the end of 2014.
The Lea County Commissioners appointed Mark Hargrove as interim sheriff in December after Coffman died in an apparent suicide.
Commissioners filed a lawsuit with the court earlier this month, contending that Hargrove should serve the remainder of Coffman’s term and that no election was needed this year.
Gov. Susana Martinez was a defendant in the lawsuit and argued that state law requires a vacant county office to be filled at the next general election, with an appointee serving until a successor is elected.