Man barred from entering City Hall wins race for mayor

SANTA FE, New Mexico Wed Mar 7, 2012 10:25pm EST

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SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A man facing extortion charges and forbidden from entering City Hall or speaking with city employees won the election for mayor in the town of Sunland Park, New Mexico.

Daniel Salinas was arrested in late February for extortion, New Mexico State Police spokesman Robert McDonald said.

Salinas was accused of trying to blackmail a mayoral opponent, Gerardo Hernandez, to drop out of the race with a tape showing Hernandez receiving a lap dance from a topless stripper, McDonald said.

Salinas was later released on $50,000 cash bond on condition he not enter City Hall or contact city workers, McDonald said.

But his name remained on the ballot, and on Tuesday he won the election with an unofficial tally of 637 votes for Salinas and 553 for Hernandez.

It is not clear what will happen to mayor-elect Salinas, as an investigation is underway of voter fraud, in addition to the pending charges. If Salinas is convicted of a felony, he cannot hold public office.

"They're still arresting people for voter fraud so it's all ongoing, rolling into one big investigation," McDonald said.

City Manager Jaime Aguilera was arrested along with Salinas and both men are charged with extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, tampering with evidence and alleged blackmail of Hernandez.

The election on Tuesday was to replace former mayor Martin Resendiz, who resigned last year after admitting to signing contracts while drunk.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

(This version corrects the police spokesman's surname)

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