County candidates officially filed for primary election Tuesday, with 13 filing for office. But at the end of the day, only three races will be contested.
Commissioner James Duffey, a Republican, again will face Eloy Ortega in District 1. Four years ago, Duffey narrowly defeated Ortega, a retired building contractor and Roswell Independent School District board member.
“I’ll have a tough race again this time,” Duffey said. “I’m looking forward to the campaign.”
Duffey planned to begin knocking on doors to meet constituents, he said.
As chairman of the commission, Duffey continues to work on several issues. He is involved with fighting for county rights in issues regarding the lesser prairie chicken, and hopes to continue construction progress with the Chaves County Detention Center that has proceeded on time and within budget.
Water issues, agriculture, development at the air base, and oil and gas development are central to Duffey’s work on the commission and his campaign, he said.
Jobs creation remains the main focus, though, he said.
“Jobs are still the most important thing in our county,” Duffey said. “We need to create more jobs. There are lots of opportunity to grow, expand and utilize the industry we have. Hopefully, we can keep expanding business. We’re sitting on a gold mine.”
Eloy Ortega, a Democrat, said he wanted to run again because he wanted to address the problem of illegal drugs in the county.
“I have some issues that I would like the county to address and get the school district involved,” Ortega said. “The biggest problem in the county is illegal drugs, especially meth.”
Ortega said, if elected, he would like the sheriff and county commissioners to sponsor a program of sending deputies to every school, more than once a year, to inform the schools about illegal drugs.
“Right now, I can tell you it’s the worst problem in this county,” Ortega said. “If I win, that’s the top priority. That’s the main reason I’m running. Being on the school board, I’ll be able to get some things done, if they agree. You never know.”
Ortega lost by just a couple of votes. He said he had a lot of relatives and friends who didn’t vote last time. But the district had changed this election.
Republican Will Cavin filed for County Commission in District 5, a seat vacated by Commissioner Greg Nibert. Nibert, who has served two terms, cannot run again due to term limits.
Cavin is a retired Roswell Independent School District teacher and coach and past chairman of the Republican Party of Chaves County.
“I’m really excited,” Cavin said. “Commissioner Nibert has done a fantastic job. I’m ready to serve. I am ready to work hard, dream big and make a difference for the citizens for Chaves County.”
Four candidates filed for sheriff to replace retiring Sheriff Rob Coon. The candidates are: Arthur Fleming, Britt Snyder, Patrick Barncastle and Gary Graves. They are all Republican candidates.
“It’s exciting. I’m ready,” said Barncastle, lead investigator for the district attorney’s office. “This is an exciting time for us, our campaign and Chaves County.”
Snyder, chief deputy for the Chaves County Sheriff’s Department, began campaigning a year ago.
“This is an important day for me,” said Snyder, a 24-year sheriff’s employee. “It’s something I’ve been preparing for, for many years. I want to be the kind of sheriff they can be proud of. I want to be very active in the community.”
Fleming, a New Mexico Gas Company employee with 16 years experience working for the New Mexico Mounted Patrol, said he felt great about filing.
“It’s a good feeling to be able to exercise our right to file for office,” Fleming said. “We’re gearing up to get signs, and getting out and meeting the public.”
According to Graves’ web site, he is a lifelong resident of the Chaves County area, born in Roswell. He served in law enforcement for 21 years in New Mexico and served as elected sheriff of De Baca County.
For assessor, Mark Willard, a Republican, filed for the seat unopposed.
Incumbent Magistrate Judge (01) K.C. Rogers, a Republican, will be challenged by newcomer Bobby Arnett, also a Republican. Magistrate Judge (02) John Halvorson, a Republican, is unopposed. Republican Eric Coll is unopposed for probate judge.
State Rep. Candy Ezzell, R-Dist. 54, will run unopposed for her sixth term in the Legislature.
Ezzell said she is excited about the upcoming session.
“We have to keep working towards making the state more business friendly because jobs are important,” Ezzell said. “Every time we pass a law, it affects somebody’s life adversely.”
Ezzell foresees several gun laws on the table in the next session, along with water issues, oil and gas and other challenges brought by progressive legislators that she would like to face.
“We don’t want to become California or New York State,” Ezzell said. “We want to be able to raise our kids here with clean water and clean air, without all of these restriction on it. We have to keep common sense up there, and keep the rural voice alive after redistricting.”
Chaves County candidates
Eloy Ortega (D)
James Duffey (R) – incumbent
Will Cavin (R)
Arthur Fleming (R)
Britt Snyder (R)
Patrick Barncastle (R)
Gary Graves (R)
Mark Willard (R)
Magistrate Judge 01
K.C. Rogers (R)
Bobby Arnett (R)
Magistrate Judge 02
John Halvorson (R)
Eric Coll (R)
Legislative District 54
Candy Ezzell (R)[/auth]