District 1 commission candidates differ in priorities and economic strategy

Quay County Commission District 1 candidates Sue Dowell and Wendell Smith agree on a lot of issues. Both want to make sure the county receives its fair share of state and federal funding, for example. Both want to take a hard look at the proposed animal ordinance to see if it's necessary or if existing laws would suffice.

But voters can consider two distinct differences when casting ballots for the Nov. 6 election – their primary reasons for seeking office and their strategies for improving the local economy.

Dowell, a Democrat, said her top priority would be to improve communication between commissioners and the public.

"Improving communication with constituents would help them feel they are being listened to and informed," she said.

Comissioners also need to improve communication with local media, she said.

"I think people communicating with each other is a vital component to improving the county," Dowell said.

Smith, an independent candidate, said he would like to focus on better community health care.

He said he's concerned about the level of care at Tucumcari's privately owned Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital, which rents the county-owned building to Presbyterian Medical Group. He said commissioners need to do research into why there are complaints regarding care at the facility.

While both candidates agree on the need for a stronger local economy, they have different ideas about how to achieve that goal.

Smith said the Commission should actively seek federal or state funding to boost local growth. He said stabilizing or expanding existing businesses already in the area could help growth.

"I am a small businessman myself," Smith said. "I know that the most important thing is getting people to work."

Once the base economy is stabilized, he said the focus could turn to recruiting new business to the area. He said outsiders would be more interested in locating in Tucumcari if they saw a stable economy already in place.

Dowell agrees the local economy is not strong, but she believes the key to making it stronger is to "look outside to the opportunities."

She said commissioners should do what they can to recruit new business into the region.

Also Dowell said there is a need to stabilize and support those involved in agriculture in our county. She said with the economy, drought and price of hay and livestock feed Quay County farmers and ranchers are facing tremendous obstacles daily.

The Dowell-Smith winner will succeed incumbent Robert Lopez who was defeated by Dowell in the June 5 Primary.

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