Mayor determined to stand his ground
GRANTS, N.M. – City of Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks said that he is not afraid of getting arrested for defying the New Mexico Governor’s stay-at-home order by reopening the city.
On Monday, April 27, Hicks said that he will be allowing the City of Grants’ businesses that were labeled non-essential due to the state’s order to open. This comes after over 80 local businesses signed a petition to urge the mayor to reopen the city.
Mayor Hicks said that he is not afraid of getting into trouble for reopening the city because he believes what he is doing is right, “[Gov. Lujan Grisham] is picking winners and losers, say you have own a dress shop, that’s not essential to her, alright, but if you put food on the table from having that business, its essential to you, ‘innit?” [sic.] The mayor added, “I don’t care if it’s a liquor store, a gun store or whatever – if Walmart, Smiths and Walgreens can stay open with social distancing, so can everybody else. Why is it that the Coronavirus can be here at Diamond G, you know we had it there right? Then they closed and now theyre back open. Why is it that they can close and then reopen? Why can’t everybody do that?” The Mayor asked.
When asked if he was afraid of legal action from the state against him, Hicks said, “bring it on baby, she is violating the Constitution of the United States of America and if she writes me a ticket I am going to sue her. I’m not going to sue her in state court, I’m going to sue her in federal court, where [U.S. Attorney General William “Bill” Barr] can look at it.” When pressed on the section of the constitution the governor is violating, Hicks said without hesitation, “Section 26 of Article 4, because she is picking winners and losers – who is going to get money and who ain’t, that’s the New Mexico Constitution. In the Constitution of the United States of Americans she can’t limit your movement,” [sic.] the mayor said. “The consititon doesn’t say, these rights are inalienable except when someone gets sick,” Hicks added.
Article 4, Section 26 of the New Mexico State Cosntitution reads, in full: Grant of Franchise or Privilege
The legislature shall not grant to any corporation or person, any rights, franchises, privileges, immunities or exemptions, which shall not, upon the same terms and under like conditions, inure equally to all persons or corporations; no exclusive right, franchise, privilege or immunity shall be granted by the legislature or any municipality in this state.
By virtue of executive order, signed March 19, the closure of businesses declared non-essential is state law; however the mayor argues that it is not law, saying that the governor cannot make a law which violates the constitution.
In a press release, Nora Sackett, spokeswoman for the governor’s office said, “elected officials attempting to disregard the life-saving public health orders are putting the health of the communities at risk, which is deeply disappointing and troubling. Anyone willfully violating the public health order, which carries full legal weight, could incur legal consequences.”
In response, Mayor Hicks said that people are already coming from all around to shop in Grants because it’s easier or safer, and that is why many shops have had to limit the amount of members per family allowed inside at a time.
At this time, the mayor said he doesn’t know of any businesses that have had to shut their doors permanently but did say that its too early to tell at this point. “What [the governor] is doing is wrong, she wants us to be good little soldiers, socialists… what this is about is doing what’s right,” Hicks said.
The governor’s office has said that any businesses that reopen will be in violation of the law, this means that the stores can still be cited and given a ticket by the New Mexico State Police. The mayor said that the city does not have the resources to help small businesses when it comes to NMSP’s orders, but offered this advice to business owners, “Open up, when the state police come and cite them, ask for a warrant. The state police cannot come into your business and shut you down without a warrant, in order to get a warrant to do that they have to go to a judge, and the judge is going to ask them what law the owners are breaking a law. They can’t cite a law, they can cite an executive order, and the judge will throw them out, because you have to cite a law.” Sackett said that these orders carry full legal weight, a statement Mayor Hicks disagrees with. Hicks said that in his opinion it would be in the best interest of business owners to reopen.
Mayor Hicks said, “I’ve been praying about this for weeks now, I’ve been talking to my wife about it back and forth because this is a big thing. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed, then I finally looked at my wife and I said, ‘well honey, I guess I have my answer.’ She looked at me and said, ‘you’re going to do it aren’t you?’ I said, ‘yes, I’m going to do it.’ She handed me a Saint Michael candle and said, go light that fire.
“I took that candle to the church and I lit it and prayed for God to give me his guidance and his protection. I asked Saint Michael to defend me in this battle and I went and did an interview. I’m not just doing this to do it, I believe in this community. I believe in this country and in this constitution, its not partisan for me. It’s all about the constitution, and I would gladly, like I did in 1979 – I volunteered – and I’d gladly do it again if it guarantees this republic continues.” [sic.]
Pick up a copy of this weeks coming Cibola Citizen for an updated version of this story.