(LA JUNTA, Colo.) — The Mayor of La Junta alleges that he is being threatened and blackmailed by a city councilman – a councilman accused of trying to spy on young girls while they were changing clothes.
About a month ago, the La Junta city council voted to investigate Councilman Ed Vela after parents and organizers of a La Junta dance group said Vela tried to look in a room where young girls were changing.
These accusations are at the root of the threats that Mayor Joseph Ayala says he is receiving from Vela.
Mayor Ayala made a statement at the most recent May 15 city council meeting, addressing the alleged threats made by Councilman Ed Vela. Ayala said that he received the news from the city’s attorney, who called him about a “proposal” from Vela.
The “proposal” was actually an ultimatum. Councilman Vela wanted his name to be cleared of these allegations of misconduct, “or there would be damning information released about the Mayor,” Mayor Alaya recalled what the city attorney told him.
“I thought about filing a complaint against you, Mr. Vela,” Mayor Alaya said, addressing Vela directly during Monday’s council meeting. “That’s borderline blackmail and extortion.”
FOX21 News reached out to the Mayor, who said he did not want to comment on the threats but did confirm that the investigation into the allegations made against Vela will move forward.
At a May 1 meeting, the council voted 6-1, solely Vela opposed, to fund this investigation. Prior to the vote, City Manager Rick Klein pleaded with Vela to step down.
“Money is so tight. I’m going to request Councilman Vela. Let’s not spend this money and please would you step down and give us a break on our budget?” said Klein.
Vela’s response was, “Nope.”
Since then, other councilmembers have joined in with this plea to step down, after they say this whole situation has taken away resources from the community.
“We want to move past this… Step down,” pleaded Councilwoman Lisa Pantoya.
The council voted 6-1 at the most recent meeting to budget $10,000 for this investigation. This money is coming out of their general fund, made up of taxpayer dollars. Klein said that these funds are usually invested into the community, things like fixing potholes or increasing salaries.
Along with the monetary hit, council members say a lot of time and energy is being spent getting this investigation started. Klein said that if Vela really cared about this community, he would step down. But, as long as Vela is on the council, the members are going to hold him accountable.
The La Junta community does not normally see drama like this, and they say, they don’t want it.
“We don’t see scandals like this… La Junta does not want it, the city council does not want it. I look at the members, the other members, and I can see the pain on their faces, and we’re just looking for a good resolve and that they want to move the community forward in a positive manner,” said Klein.
During the meeting, Councilman Vela said he is not denying the threats made against the Mayor, but that he is, “not going to give a whole bunch of information because all of this is still pending.”
FOX21 News called the contact listed as Councilman Vela’s phone number, to which his nephew, Junior Sanchez answered. When asked about why Sanchez was answering Vela’s cell phone he said that he, “leaves it around sometimes,” while also confusingly using “I” interchangeably when referring to Vela.