Serving the High Plains

Q&A: Judge candidates talk issues

Three candidates are competing for the open Tucumcari municipal judge position in the Nov. 2 election. Early voting began this week.

The previous municipal judge, Noreen Hendrickson, was appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to magistrate judge in Tucumcari in June. She replaced Timothy O’Quinn, who resigned in April after 4 1/2 years on the bench.

The candidates for the municipal judge post are Willis J. Hendrickson Jr., 80; and Christopher Maestas, 77, who both are retirees; and Tommy Snapp, 50, a disabled former corrections officer.

Hendrickson is Noreen Hendrickson’s husband.

The Quay County Sun sent each of the candidates a form with three questions. Their answers are edited for space, style and clarity.

Q: What prompted you to run for municipal judge?

Hendrickson: “I believe that the city needs to maintain its Municipal Court, and I also believe that we as citizens of Tucumcari have a civic duty to serve in whatever capacity we can to improve Tucumcari.”

Maestas: “To serve our citizens, try to make Tucumcari a safe place to live and raise a family. No one is above the law, no one is better than others. We are all equal and should treat others the way one wants to be treated.”

Snapp: “I feel we need someone firm, fair and consistent that will adhere to the law set forth by the state of New Mexico and more specifically the City of Tucumcari.”

Q: What are your qualifications for the position?

Hendrickson: “I have spent many hours in a courtroom to include all courts. I have testified on many cases in my 23 years as a police officer. I have over 1,000 continuing education hours in fields which will be useful to me as a judge.”

Maestas: He cited his bachelor’s degree in education, a minor in languages and 30-plus credit hours in administration. He said he taught for 25 years as an elementary teacher, including 23 at Tucumcari Public Schools. Citing his “just and fair” treatment of more than 3,000 TPS students during his career, “I will treat our public the same.” Maestas also cited his 14 years as a city commissioner, where he learned “the responsibilities in governing the city.”

Snapp: “I was a correctional officer for several years. I will bring with me the experience from that as well as what I will learn from going to the trainings that I attend.”

Q: If elected municipal judge, what are your goals?

Hendrickson: “Follow safety procedures. I know that our Municipal Court is now operating under an Emergency Response Team approved Covid plan. That plan allows for in person court hearings with increased preventative cleaning, social distancing and mask wearing emphasis.

“Catch up with all cases that have been delayed because of the lack of a municipal judge since July. Some of those cases will need to be dismissed based on time limits.

“Ensure that all municipal warrants are entered into NCIC so that they are available for all law enforcement officers.

“Work closely with the court clerk to complete the process of logging and getting outdated records ready for destruction.

“Serve my community with integrity, fairness, and impartiality.”

Maestas: “My goal will be to treat YOU as I would like to be treated. Educate people so they can better themself. We can learn from your mistakes. Punishment is not always the answer. When elected, I will do my best to serve you the people. I will make mistakes. I am not perfect. As advised by a wonderful and wise woman — love, caring and forgiveness make you a better person. This lady was my mother.”

Snapp: “My goal is to administer justice to the best of my ability while being fair to all those involved. To uphold the laws set forth by the City of Tucumcari and state of New Mexico.”

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