Rancher Aubrey Dunn, center, chairman of the Chaves County Soil and Water District, has announced his candidacy for New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands. (Courtesy Photo)
Chairman of the Chaves County Soil and Water Conservation District Aubrey Dunn announced his candidacy this week to run for the position of New Mexico commissioner of public lands.
A New Mexico native, businessman and rancher, Dunn said that management of state lands today is critical to the future of New Mexico and its educational system.
“I am running for our children and grandchildren,” Dunn said. “I am running for jobs for New Mexicans. This state deserves a land commissioner that understands that maximizing the responsible use of our natural resources is how we put money into our permanent fund for education and create opportunity for industries to add jobs.”
Dunn has served Chaves County for more than 10 years as a member of the conservation district and is a board member of the Farm Credit of New Mexico. While serving, he has helped establish a noxious weeds control program, worked on land leveling for farms, livestock watering systems, wildlife fencing projects, watershed work and solar well projects.
Dunn retired after working for 25 years in the financial industry as a president and chief financial officer for First Federal Bank. He also continues to serve on the board for Farm Credit of New Mexico, which furnishes agriculture loans. He also occasionally consults for the FDIC.
Dunn was raised on an apple farm in High Rolls, near Cloudcroft, and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in animal science. He and his wife, Robin, operate a 40-section cow and calf ranch 45 miles from Roswell. They will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary next year. The Dunns have three children: A. Blair Dunn, an Albuquerque attorney, Jamie Dunn, an optometrist with University of New Mexico Hospital, and Jed Dunn, a soil specialist; and two grandchildren.
Dunn’s priorities if elected to the position of land commissioner would be to “take the resources of the state in state public lands and maximize the returns on those, and get those dollars back into public education,” he said.
At the same time, he would work to maximize conservation.
“The main income for New Mexico is in oil and gas reserves. That’s really the No. 1 job—how those are managed,” Dunn said.
Dunn would continue working on ways to create a balance between wildlife conservation issues and public land access, he said.
“There’s got to be a balance there. We’ve got to look at past uses and future uses and make sure (the lands) are accessible to the people of the state,” Dunn said.
Dunn recently met with Gov. Susana Martinez at the New Mexico Cattle Growers luncheon this month to discuss his candidacy.
“The management of state lands today is critical to the future of New Mexico and our educational system. With New Mexico ranking at the bottom of high school graduation rates and the need for additional school funds demands that New Mexico maximize its trust land resources,” Dunn said.
Dunn will run against incumbent Ray Powell, a veterinarian and environmentalist from Albuquerque, who was elected in 2010.