By Thomas Garcia
Staff writer 

4-H Wranglers host candidate forum for June primaries

Elections are slated for June 5.


April 25, 2018

Thomas Garcia

Tucumcari Wranglers Club member Amber Rivera shows off a cake during the auction portion of Sunday's Candidate Forum at the Quay County Fair barn.

A candidate forum gave the Quay County 4-H Wranglers Club an opportunity to learn about the June 5 primary election and raise money for a future community service project through a dessert auction.

"For some of you, this election could be the first time for you to vote," said Ellen White, Quay County Clerk.

White said for the first time in the state's history, anyone who is 17-years old and will be 18 before the November general election can participate in the primaries. She said voters have until May 8 to register to vote or declare their party.

"I want to thank the 4-H members for holding this event and taking an interest in the election that will impact their future," said Jackey O. Chatfield, a candidate for State Rep. District 67.

The seat is open, with Dennis Roch deciding not to seek an additional term. Chatfield is unopposed in the Republican primary. Mark D. McDonald is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

"When I was younger, participating in 4-H and FFA, I always wondered where I would ever need to know parliamentary procedure or public speaking," Chatfield said. "As I stand before, I know appreciate those valuable lessons I learned in my youth."

Quay County Sheriff candidates Russell D. Shafer and Reyes E. Gonzales each spoke about their experience that would benefit the residents if elected as sheriff.

"I have 19 years of law enforcement experience and three as an administrator as your elected sheriff," said Shafer, the incumbent and a Republican.

Shafer said his time and dedication makes him a strong candidate to continue the job as sheriff, that the residents elected him into four years ago. He said his time in the United States Navy has also given him a wealth of experience that allows him to better serve the community.

Reyes, running as a Democrat, said his eight years of experience as a certified law enforcement officer includes drug interdiction but one of his strongest assets is his ties to the community.

"I have been active in my roles as a 4-H leader," Reyes said. "In 2017 I was the 2017 leader of the year. I am always active in Christmas events or parties."

Reyes said through his work with the community and local 4-H organization he has developed a strong relationship with the residents. He said this gives him a unique insight into the issues of the area.

Candidates for the Quay County Magistrate Judge, in order of the ballot, include incumbent Timothy James O'Quinn, Patricia J. Lopez, and Paula J. Chacon.

"I think I have done a good job as magistrate judge since being appointed in 2016 by the Gov. Susana Martinez to fill the vacancy," O'Quinn said.

O'Quinn said he was born and raised in Tucumcari, and has only been out of the area while he attended college and law school. He said he served for a time as a prosecutor in the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office and knows the issues impacting the area.

"There are three candidates for the magistrate judge position and each vote will count," said Lopez.

Lopez said she knows that O'Quinn and Chacon bring their own unique experience to the table but her 25 years as experience as a law enforcement office gives her greater insight into the issues that will come before the court.

"You don't have to have a law degree to be a judge," Lopez said. "In fact, look at some of our past judges, J. Bronson Moore and Joel Garnett. Each of them were law enforcement officers before they sat upon the bench."

Chacon said her years serving as the court administrator 11 years with Garnett and serving a total of 19 years gives her a wealth of experience. She said the knowledge and experience she gained while serving during both Moore and Garnett's administrations can be used to serve the residents of Quay County.

"You 4-H members have shown such great leadership and responsibility in holding this forum," Chacon said.

Candidates for the the Quay County Commision District 3 seat are incumbent Franklin D. McCasland and Bryan M. Rinestine.

"I have a unique insight from having worked inside the County," Rinestine said.

Rinestine said while serving as the former Quay County DWI Coordinator, he learned about many of the issues that the county faces and will face in the future.

"I have strong ties to the region, my family has been ranching in Quay County for several generations," Rinestine said. "I was raised in Quay County and I have raised a family in Quay County."

Rinestine said one of the issues impacting the county is the Quay County Detention Center. The center is in need of repair but more importantly there is an unfunded mandate that would put the burden upon tax payers for the mental health care of inmates.

Rinestine said there has to be efforts to combat the unfunded mandates from the state that would put burdens upon the county's residents. He said another issue facing our area is the retention of our workforce. There are not enough local job opportunities to help keep children from leaving the area.

"We have an aging, declining workforce," Rinestine said. "Only through working with the EDC and efforts by the county can we create job opportunities to retain our youth."

McCasland said if elected he would continue efforts to bring in money to the county's school system through the projects he has been a part of approving as commissioner.

"In my years of service, I have been a part of the approval of wind, solar projects that have issued industrial revenue bonds resulting in revenue for area schools," McCasland said.

McCasland said the IRB projects generate payment in lieu of taxes payments to the school that can be used for renovations and improvements. He said in the past two years the addition of 21 new wind turbine towers and renovation of existing towers near House will result in payments for the next 25 years for that school district.

McCasland said he has also taken courses through New Mexico State University in Las Cruces that has helped him to become a certified county commissioner and certified public official.

"If elected I would continue to secure future renewable energy projects that would continue to benefit our youth's education," McCasland said.

Quay County Assessor candidate Jannie Hoffman, who is running unopposed, also spoke at the event.

"I want to commend the 4-H for their efforts to raise money for a community service project," Hoffman said. "I hope you continue to show this dedication throughout your lives. The community is always in need of strong leadership qualities in our youth."


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