Experience common among candidates

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Editor’s Note: The following is the first in a series of stories about the upcoming county elections. Today’s focus is on the District 1 spot in the County Commission. between incumbent Robert Lopez and challengers Doyle Frasier and Jimmy Sandoval.

When election ballots are cast, those who voted for the District 1 Quay County Commission spot can say in all confidence they voted for a candidate with experience.

The Democratic primary election for the two-year term pits incumbent Robert Lopez against former County Commissioner Doyle Frasier and current Mesalands Community College board member Jimmy Sandoval.

The winner faces no opponent from the Republican ticket, meaning the June 6 primary will decide who serves out the remaining two years of the term first filled by Grace Madrid.

Madrid died May 18 of last year, and Lopez was appointed to the Commission. Under election rules, the remaining two years of Madrid’s term will be decided in an election.

Should Lopez win the bid, the Commission would remain intact. Current District 3 Commissioner Franklin McCasland is running uncontested on the Democratic ticket with no Republican opposition and District 2 Commissioner Bill Curry’s term expires in 2008.

That’s fine by Lopez, who also serves as president of the advisory committee of the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center.

“I think the present Commission works very well together,” Lopez said. “I think we all have the entire county’s best interests. None of us have a special agenda. We do work well together and the growth of Quay County is of the utmost importance.”

Frasier can relate to Lopez’ experience on the County Commission with two two-year terms and one four-year term on his resume. Frasier feels that experience would help him make an easy transition.

“I feel my experience would help the Quay County Commission move forward with Quay County,” Frasier said. “I feel with the wind energy available and money coming in from the Ute Lake (Ranch) estate taxes, I feel that money needs to be spent prudently.”

Frasier thinks the Ute Lake Ranch luxury home community will be a boon for county taxes, but the Commission will be best served by giving the developers freedom to create the community and give assistance when requested.

Frasier said other board experience comes into play as well. Frasier is the chair of the county’s United Way program since its inception in 1988 and serves on the Arch Hurley Conservancy District.

Board qualifications are also a selling point for Sandoval. Sandoval was a city commissioner from 2001 to 2004, but ended up tied with Christopher Maestas in his re-election bid. Sandoval lost a card draw for the position.

“I guess I’m not a good gambler,” Sandoval said with a laugh.

Sandoval has been on the board of Mesalands Community College for approximately a decade, and he feels the experience there translates in many ways to the County Commission. In both areas, Sandoval said, it’s important to see what other entities are doing successfully and find ways to bring grant money to the entity.

If elected, Sandoval said the most important thing would be finding a way to keep a budget in line even as the prices increase for miscellaneous expenses.

“I think the budget would be one of the biggest things because of gas and diesel prices,” Sandoval said. “If prices drop, it will be a few cents, but it won’t drop much.”

Sandoval’s message of prioritizing the budget is echoed by both of his opponents.

“It operates as a business,” Lopez said of the Commission. “There are many entities. I find it to be no different than a large business. A budget is made and the economics are crucial.”

Early and absentee voting runs May 9 through June 3.

Questions can be directed to the county clerk’s office at 461-0510.