Editor's note: The following candidates are running for the four-year term of county commissioner for District 1. Candidates for the seat include incumbent Robert Lopez and Sue Dowell.
Candidates were asked the same questions and asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.
The primary election is June 5. Absentee and early voting runs through June 2.
Age: Declined to answer
Occupation: Retired teacher
Please list previous or current elected offices or other organizations you feel prepare you for a commission seat: This is my first experience running for office. I do not believe having held elected office is necessarily the best preparation for serving in public office. My liberal arts degree with emphasis in history, government, political science, sociology, and English is good preparation for the commission seat. Teaching in three of four school systems in Quay County gave me opportunities to understand those communities and to interact daily with citizens. I developed interest in and friendships with citizens of this county. Interacting with citizens and understanding their concerns and needs are important as preparation to serve on the commission.
What are your goals if you are elected and how do you plan to implement them?
A major goal is to make county government more receptive and responsive to citizens' input and concerns. Public officials have to improve communication with those they represent. I believe one of the strengths I would bring to office is my communication skills. Another top priority has to be wise management of taxpayer money. We have to reduce government spending and waste. We need to view every expenditure and verify it is wise. Improving county economy must be a concern. County government should use local venders when possible and cost effective. We need to diversify and expand efforts for economic development.
What is something the county commission has done well over the last four years?
The county commission and county manager have done well being an integral part in improving telecommunication capabilities into Quay County in conjunction with ENMR Plateau. The accomplishment of fiber optics into the courthouse, financial institutions, and some businesses is important for development of future businesses. Internet capabilities and speed of fiber optics are positive points for Quay County to have in place for businesses considering locating here and are important assets for economic development in our area. They have also spent time and energy to find ways to secure matching funds for some projects which curbs expenses incurred on projects.
What is something the county commission has not done well? How do you intend to correct that if elected?
It has not communicated well with constituents. When the city commission and county commission wanted the Wells Fargo Bank building for government offices, it was difficult convincing them to be receptive and responsive to citizens. The very basis of our government is for officials to represent constituents. When 1,122 citizens stood together, the commissions decided not to spend that million. I would focus on communicating with citizens. Citizens have to feel they are respected and their ideas valued. Officials have responsibility to inform citizens, foster open, transparent government, and be cognizant that citizen participation is a vital part of government.
What do you feel the commission needs to focus on as a whole?
According to the New Mexico County Commissioner Handbook, the duties of the Board of County Commissioners includes that they should promote decisions which will benefit the public interest and should actively promote public confidence in county government. The commission should focus on that as a whole. They also need to focus on the laws and ordinances by which they are governed. Certain actions have to be carried out in specific manners. If they promote decisions that benefit public interest and make those decisions following laws and ordinances of governance, public confidence in county government would increase.
What do you feel the commission needs to focus on in your district?
Speaking with citizens, I hear voter confusion as to exactly what "district" means and how "district" affects voters and elections. This is another example of need for county government to inform and educate citizens about government processes. District 1 citizens have same needs as citizens in other districts. I do not believe there are clear-cut lines of needs confined within a certain district. What happens in any district has impact on all districts. Some in District 1 have voiced concerns about economic situations, treatment of employees, declining tax base, government spending, prioritizing needs, water issues, roads, and special interest groups.
Last question: 150 words, whatever else you want to say.
Citizen participation is a vital part of democracy. Each of us has responsibility to participate actively. Voters hold power by using voting privileges to elect officials to represent them. Elected officials have responsibility to represent constituents. Although I have never held elected office, I believe my education and experiences help me understand government and cultivate ideas I would like to use to help improve Quay County and our lives here. Quay County has good citizens who are smart, dedicated, willing to work to improve things, and have good ideas and energy. Improvement in Quay County will come from citizens being informed and actively involved. Voters have choices of candidates for two open commission seats. If voters choose me to represent them as Quay County Commissioner, I will serve that position to the best of my ability. Let's take it to the voting booth, Quay County! Please vote for Sue Dowell.