Commission votes to approve new lobbyist contract


July 10, 2019

A divided Quay County Commission on Monday voted 2-1 to approve a new contract with a Curry County-based lobbyist that would pay the firm $1,000 monthly instead of an annual deal.

District I Commissioner Susan Dowell voted against the contract for Clovis-based Clinton D. Harden & Associates in part because she was unsure whether Harden, a former state senator, had spoken in favor of any of three Clovis applicants bidding for a sixth horse-racing license from the New Mexico Racing Commission.

Coronado Partners also is seeking such a license for a racetrack and casino in Tucumcari. The county commission previously has committed to make infrastructure improvements to the racetrack site if Tucumcari wins the license.

Dowell questioned whether the county was “paying someone to work against us.” County manager Richard Primrose, who urged approval of the contract, said Harden has not taken a side on the license.

Primrose said Clinton D. Harden & Associates had requested a monthly contract because New Mexico legislators were taking important actions during committee meetings year-round and not just during the 60-day session.

“I think this (contract) would be beneficial for Quay County,” Primrose said.

Primrose said a lobbyist such a Harden with many contacts in the Legislature can prove valuable when money is tight and prevent or lessen budget cuts to the county.

“He can voice our concerns to them,” he said.

Dowell also questioned Harden making contributions to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign. Dowell signaled the governor has shown more interest in dealing with issues in urban areas than in rural districts.

“I think rural New Mexico is crying out for attention as well,” Dowell said.

Primrose noted Harden is an eastern New Mexico native who’s aware of the region’s needs.

Dowell said she preferred the commission hire a lobbyist based in the county.

“I wish we were hiring someone with a dedication and love of Quay County,” she said.

Harden was not at the meeting because he was attending a Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee meeting that morning at Mesalands Community College.

Fellow commissioners Mike Cherry and Franklin McCasland expressed no misgivings of Harden’s allegiances or performance. McCasland said Harden had maintained regular contact with county employees to discuss issues. Cherry also noted the committee meetings and that keeping an eye on lawmakers “is a full-time vocation.”

Cherry moved to approve the contract, and McCasland seconded. Both voted “aye” for the pact, and Dowell voted against it.

In November, the commission approved a three-month, $7,500 contract to Harden & Associates for the upcoming New Mexico Legislature session. Dowell at the time voted for the deal but was irked that hiring a lobbyist was necessary.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved its $5,000 financial support for the Tucumcari MainStreet program for fiscal year 2019-2020 and another $5,000 as a sponsor of the organization’s annual Fired Up festival, set for Sept. 28. The totals were the same as last year’s.

New Tucumcari MainStreet executive director Connie Loveland explained some of its upcoming projects, including Great Blocks infrastructure improvements and beatification for several blocks of Main and Second streets, a downtown breezeway that eventually will have lighting and sculptures and Tucumcari hosting the annual meeting of New Mexico MainStreet directors on Oct. 16-19.

Tucumcari MainStreet’s annual meeting will be 6 p.m. July 17 at the Great Room of Mesalands Community College.

• Approved a series of agreements with the state for roadwork. They included $281,167 from the Local Government Road Fund, $138,459 for a cooperative agreement and $157,395 for a school-bus route agreement for Quay Roads O and AF. The resolutions also request a waiver of the county’s required 25 percent match on the Local Government Road Fund and cooperative agreements, which would save about $110,000. Primrose said the state typically approves such waivers.

• Approved a capital appropriations agreement of $750,000 for work on Quay Road 63 east of Tucumcari Memorial Park.

• Approved a budgetary increase of $24,000 to the Quay County Detention Center for fiscal year 2018-2019. Finance director Cheryl Simpson said the increase was due to the health care of inmates putting the jail over its $1.448 million budget. The commission also approved moving $200,000 each from the general fund and road fund for road projects and county improvements.


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