Quay Day breakfast leaves leaders optimistic


January 23, 2019

Two local officials who attended previous Quay Day sessions at the state capital said the 2019 version last week had a different feel.

That’s partly because of a new governor, a new state Cabinet and new lawmakers who took office. The state also is sitting on a lot of new money, prompting more energy from legislators as their session began in the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Quay Day, an annual breakfast with legislators and Cabinet members organized by the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation, was attended Wednesday by about two dozen people from the Tucumcari and Quay County.

New governor Michelle Lujan Grisham took office earlier this month along with a slew of fellow Democrats in Cabinet positions who won elections in November.

Tucumcari Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield and Quay County manager Richard Primrose said during phone interviews they saw more enthusiasm at Quay Day than in previous years.

“It was the best one I can remember,” Litchfield said. “They just seemed very enthusiastic. (Former state senator) Clinton Harden, he’s a staunch Republican, got up and said how impressed he is with the new governor and some of the things she’s put into motion. He worked with her when she was in Congress; he said it looks so positive right now for New Mexico.”

Litchfield said Lujan Grisham didn’t attend Quay Day, nor did Lt. Gov. Howie Morales. But the Cabinet members did, as did state Sen. Pat Woods and new state Rep. Jack Chatfield.

Litchfield and other Tucumcari officials also talked with a few state senators at the Roundhouse.

“They seemed to have a more positive attitude than they’ve had for a long time,” she said of senators they met.

Primrose acknowledged the additional enthusiasm in Santa Fe. He said the reason for that partly is financial. The Legislature began its session with an estimated $1.2 billion surplus in its coffers.

“The state has some additional funding and a new administration,” he said. “The past few years, the state was in a fiscal crisis. It’s hard to be enthusiastic when you’re trying to approve a budget when you don’t have the funds to do what you’d like to do.”

Litchfield said Tucumcari officials used part of Quay Day to promote a wish list for the annual capital-outlay appropriations. On the list for the city are a wastewater-reuse management plan, funds to finish repairs on Second Street between downtown and Route 66, and water-tank rehabilitation and replacement.

“Everyone seemed really interested in our capital-outlay plan,” she said. “It was a very positive feeling when you walked away from those meetings.”

Primrose also was in Santa Fe much of the week to attend workshops and meetings during the legislative conference of New Mexico Counties, which included a speech by Lujan Grisham.

New Mexico Counties issued a priority list to the Legislature, including more funding for detention operations and emergency medical services, tax reform, Forfeiture Act reform, more services for behavioral health and restructuring the fire-protection fund.

Primrose said he is aware the governor and Legislature want to boost funding for education, especially in the wake of a judge’s ruling last summer that such funding was constitutionally insufficient.

But he said he was optimistic enough money would be left over from the surplus to address other county priorities, as well.

Carmen Runyon, executive director of the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce, distributed 135 turquoise-colored “goodie bags” to lawmakers. The bags contained pamphlets from area businesses and organizations, pens, “Happiness is Tucumcari” buttons and cheese from Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory.


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