Grant County Municipal Elections: My Thoughts

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I’ve put this off, to be honest, for one reason: I’ve been accused of bias in my actions at the Daily Press (which is entirely untrue) and wanted to avoid that here. Whatever observations I make on these races, I want it known that I’ve taken no sides. Hopefully, most people will have made up their mind before reading this post anyway.

So, that being said, let’s see what we’ve got going (after the jump).

Bayard
The heart of the mining district, Bayard’s most interesting race, like the rest of Grant County, is for mayor. Incumbent Rodolpho Martinez is facing off against David Conway, a former mayor and city councilor. Rumor has it that Conway will also pursue a position on the county commission.

From what I understand, Martinez is pretty well liked, and has delivered on the wastewater treatment plant and several other projects. Conway has some strong support from a group of loyal Bayard residents, and his criticism of how projects come alive around election time is both typical and timely.

Hurley
The mayoral race in Hurley was something else this year. It seemed as though there was general consensus among Ray Baca and Manuel Martinez, the two candidates. From everything I heard at the forum two weeks ago, both candidates think infrastructure improvements and obtaining water will be the major issues facing the town in the future. In addition, Baca and Martinez were in agreement that something should be done before Phelps Dodge pulls out of the area. Finally, both seemed to have the same solution for the town’s problems: working with the state Legislature, as well as Congress, to obtain grant or capital improvement funding.

Richard Maynes is seeking re-election to the council, with three others looking to fill his seat and the one vacated by Baca: Elmo Gomez and relative newcomers to the area Carol Grebing and Thomas Meyer. Maynes should be a shoe-in, so it will be interesting to see how the other seat plays out. Still, I wonder if recent controversy surrounding water payments (and water shutoffs for some residents) will have any bearing on the race, and if residents will look to new blood for the council as an alternative.

Santa Clara
The mayor’s race in this village has been focused on one thing, and one thing alone: the contract (or lack thereof, depending on your viewpoint) between Santa Clara and Police Chief Paul Jasso. I think this race might actually come down to Gilbert Jimenez, who might be a spoiler for Pete Ordonez. Jasso has a huge well of support in the village, and since he recognized incumbent Imelda Lopez for her support of his contract, he might well pull the race in Lopez’ favor.

For trustee, Santa Clara has an interesting system, with both two-year and four-year terms. Ordonez vacated one of those positions, and there are five residents running for the position, and that figure alone will make the race interesting to watch. Tom Caddel is seeking re-election for one of the two-year seats – he’s opposed by Lawrence Grinie and Connie Holguin. Caddel currently holds an opposition seat on the board, and it is possible residents will choose to keep him there for that reason, unpopular as it may be.

Silver City
OK, this one has been juicy all year long. H.R. “Bodie” Chavez, Councilor Gary Clauss, and James Marshall are having the best mayoral race I’ve ever seen in this town.

The sparks have been flying, with Clauss supporter John Fridinger using his Gila Community List to push Clauss’s candidacy. Marshall has been endorsed by outgoing mayor Terry Fortenberry, councilor Thomas Nupp (who is running unopposed for re-election) and, to my surprise, councilor Judy Ward. He’s also picked up the support of local firefighters and police, which, given his background in emergency management, is no surprise. Meanwhile, Chavez’s efforts at fundraising and voter turnout continue unabated.

Clauss is defending his home turf, trying to keep the library from being moved out of the downtown area, and Chavez is trying to get back into the game after being gone for a few years. Marshall, with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, seems to be cruising.

Turnout will likely be a big factor in this contest: Clauss, a champion of improved and increased recycling and affordable and sustainable housing (two things this town desperately needs) will benefit most from a “get the vote out” push, and the last four days have seen several such messages come down the pipeline from Fridinger’s list.

So, a few observations (mine and yours): Chavez’s answer on methamphetamines during the candidate forum, when he said they should be limited to levels acceptable to the community. Nupp brought this up last week, and it was something I noticed as well. Chavez said the drugs will never be totally eliminated (which is true), but the acceptable levels bit was a bit funky: wouldn’t that level be zero, zip, nada?

Marshall was criticized for not responding to a series of questions asked on Fridinger’s list. My call: that was the right move. Marshall was never going to come up with the right answers, because those questions were tailored for Clauss anyway. Marshall took a page out of the big-campaign book on that one – don’t spend money and time in a market you can’t win anyway.

The race is coming down in an interesting way: of the people I’ve spoken with, most don’t know Marshall and are voting for him anyway. A lot of business people are doing the same. From what I can tell, residents know what they’d get from Clauss or Chavez, and they’re looking to the relatively unknown Marshall as a result. People like Clauss as a councilor, and are looking for something new in the mayor’s office.

As for the city council, it seems the constituency of Steve May is satisfied with his performance, as he’s running unopposed for another term in District 4. The same holds true for Nupp, though one little bird tells me to expect an “undervote” for him, because of his words on those opposed to the new library.

Election Night Party
So, looks like Gary Clauss is organizing an election night shindig in the lobby of the Murray Hotel, up the street from City Hall on Broadway. I’m told everybody is welcome, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people there looking to blow off some steam. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. So, we’ll see you there!

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