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Hatch mayor dies at his business


This story originally misstated Mayor Whitlock's age, and has been corrected.

The Hatch Police Department announced on Sunday that the village’s mayor, James “Slim” Whitlock, died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 64.

Whitlock, who grew up in the Hatch Valley and lived there most of his life, died at Jim’s Supermarket on W. Hall Street, the family business he owned and managed, Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Torres told KRQE-TV. The supermarket was a short walk away from the village’s administrative offices on Franklin Street.

He had served as an elected member of the Hatch Valley Schools Board of Education and as a village trustee before being elected mayor in 2021.

On the village board and from the mayor’s office, Whitlock was known for advocating for infrastructure investment in his community, particularly for flood mitigation and protection in the aftermath of catastrophic flooding in 2006.

“Slim was a kind man, a respected friend, and a strong leader,” U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., wrote on X, the social website once known as Twitter.

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, remembered Whitlock as a “dear friend” and wrote, “I honestly don’t know that (I’ve) ever met a more loving person who gave 100% of himself to help his community.”

Torres now serves as mayor on an interim basis.

Hatch Mayor death, Mayor James "Slim" Whitlock, Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Torres