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N.M. voters choose mayor amid lap-dance controversy

March 06, 2012|By Ashley Powers
  • Everardo Holguin, 75, stands Tuesday with a poster supporting his preferred candidate for mayor of Sunland Park, N.M.
Everardo Holguin, 75, stands Tuesday with a poster supporting his preferred… (Juan Carlos Llorca/The…)

Las Vegas — The voters of Sunland Park, N.M., chose a new mayor Tuesday – but he can’t enter City Hall.

Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Salinas squeaked by Gerardo Hernandez, the man he's accused of trying to blackmail out of the race. Salinas had 637 votes to his rival's 553, the Associated Press reported.

But the election probably will be challenged in court. Local prosecutors said they're investigating potential voting irregularities.

The race has been nothing short of bizarre, starting with the emergence of a video showing Hernandez enjoying a lap dance from a topless woman. (A TV news station in neighboring El Paso, Texas, played snippets of the video by essentially portraying the woman as a bouncing oval.)

Hernandez told authorities he didn’t know the dance was being recorded until a stranger -- armed with a still image from the video -- threatened to release it if he didn’t drop out. Soon afterward, Salinas and City Manager Jaime Aguilera were arrested on suspicion of extortion and other charges, partly based on evidence from Aguilera's computer. They have pleaded not guilty.

Before the election, the AP said, a judge had barred Salinas from entering City Hall or contacting city workers. His supporters are trying to figure out how he might be able to return to work despite his bail conditions.

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