Roswell Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Mike Kakuska, who has worked for various agencies, principally public schools, says he is seeking election to the most contested County Commission seat, District 4.
Commissioner Dick Taylor, who will complete his second consecutive term and is not eligible for re-election, currently represents the district.
A Republican, Kakuska will face Robert Corn, a retired county magistrate judge, during the primary. If successful, he will then face Democrat Magil Duran, a retired state employee, in November.
“It’s real important for a fresh voice to come out every once (in a while) and talk about issues that others may not see just because you’re new,” Kakuska said.
The position will allow Kakusa to continue his job with the RISD, a factor that attracted him to run.
Kakuska spoke of his impact on the public schools here, namely through national recognition, and indicated he would use that expertise if elected to the commission. Under his tenure as principal of Roswell High, the school won several honors. The school was recognized by the Gates Foundation as one of the top ten minority/majority schools in the country. The International Center for Educational Leadership named RHS one of the top 30 schools in the nation. It also won the breakthrough high school award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The graduation rate at RHS reached 90 percent while Kakuska was there.
“One of the big reasons we won those is that we were able to not only motivate people but to form coalitions within groups of educators and parents and students to all work together for a better end,” Kakuska said. “As principal that’s not my school, as a commissioner that’s not my county. What you’re elected for is … to help lead that institution to a better end.”
Kakuska is a proponent of what he calls multiple advocacy, “you help me make the decisions that need to be made to make this a better institution.” It was this way of thinking that encouraged Kakuska to ignite a collaboration between the New Mexico State Police, the Chaves County Sheriff’s Department, the Roswell Police Department, the prisons and area security guards to “talk about intel, give it back and forth,” on a monthly basis. Kakuska named one of his strengths as his ability to work with different people.
As for the renovations needed to the Chaves County Adult Detention Center, Kakuska said the commission made “a very wise”choice by opting to look internally at their budget to fund the project. Originally, the commissioners toyed with the idea of increasing the county’s gross receipt tax.
Kakuska said he would be able to contribute to the county’s already effective job in maintaining a flat budget. Through his position, Kakuska handles a $64 million budget and has 1,500 employees under his purview. “That experience is direct experience that I can take to the commission,” he said.
Kakuska and his wife Linda have four children, Michael, Erik, Amanda and Robert.