Palla selected for District 4 commission vacancy


Last updated 2/20/2021 at 2:37pm

Courtesy photo

Megan Palla, accompanied by her husband, Eric Palla, is sworn in Friday as District 4 City Commissioner by District Judge Drew Tatum. Palla was chosen from a field of five candidates.

CLOVIS - Megan Palla, and four other longtime community staples, were asked Thursday night why she would want to join the Clovis city commission and fill its vacant District 4 position.

"I'm a firm believer in the adage 'to whom much is given, much is expected,'" Palla said. "Clovis gave me my first home, Clovis gave me my first real job out of college, and Clovis has helped raise my family. This city has given much to me, and this is me giving back."

The commission gave Palla the next 13 months, with five of the commission's seven members selecting her for the vacancy left when R.L. "Rube" Render resigned the term as part of a move to Texas.

Palla, a certified public accountant in Clovis for 23 years and a longtime member of the city's economic incentive board, was elected from a field of District 4 residents that included Clovis Homecare, Inc. Director Amy Corbin, New Mexico Department of Agriculture Inspector Senior Lynn Culberth, former City Manager and Police Chief Raymond Mondragon and contractor/developer Stephen Whittington.

According to the city charter, the commission had a Friday deadline to name Render's replacement to serve out what remained of his unexpired term until the next regular municipal election. Should Palla decide to run for election, she will face some competition, as Mondragon and Whittington said they plan to run in 2022. Culberth said he was contemplating it, while Corbin said her interest was piqued by the vacancy.

"I don't think this is something I would have done if it was election-based," Corbin said, while noting she'd be more amenable to running if she were appointed

Palla, who told commissioners she plans to run next year, said she had a goal on the commission to make Clovis a place where children would want to return to raise their own families and build their own businesses.

Each candidate was asked a series of questions beyond the application they had submitted, with District 1 Commissioner Juan Garza asking if they planned to run in 2022, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Bryant asking about time availability and District 1 Commissioner Leo Lovett asking about Clovis' best quality and biggest challenge.

Palla and Culberth both said the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges, most notably with kids being forced into at-home learning via the Internet.

"Our kids have been slammed," said Culberth. "I don't know what the solution is, but we have to focus on bringing them back."

Palla said the community has chipped in, including many businesses letting employees' children stay in the office to do online schooling, but she countered that getting kids back into classrooms was a tipping point for many other aspects of life.

Whittington, a longtime officer with the New Mexico State Police, said the biggest challenge he sees is that Clovis pays its officers so little that it simply becomes a place that trains officers before they leave for other departments.

Mondragon was asked if being on the commission would create conflicts with his work at the Eastern Plains Council of Governments. He responded that he would abstain from any vote involving EPCOG and make it known on the record in accordance with the city charter.

Applicants each noted they would have time to be on the commission and its various lower boards. Corbin said having a great staff under her gave her some latitude to attend varied events, Mondragon has scaled back to part-time with EPCOG and Culberth said he planned to retire July 1, "and I have lots of annual leave."

Commissioners said they hated to tell four people no before they cast their ballots.

"I sincerely appreciate your willingness," Mayor Mike Morris said as votes were being tallied. "You're all very qualified. The city of Clovis and District 4 would be very lucky to have whichever of you is selected. I hope the other four of you will find ways to give your time and talents to the city of Clovis."

Palla was sworn in during a noon Friday ceremony broadcast on the city's Facebook page. When the timing of the swearing-in ceremony was still up in the air Thursday, District 3 Commissioner Fidel Madrid half-joked Palla needed to be sworn in by Monday afternoon because she had a parks and recreation board meeting that night.

Palla drew five of the seven commission votes, with Madrid and Helen Casaus voting for Mondragon.


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