County commission incumbents prevail

J. Albin Smith, left, and his wife Sandra watch the election results Tuesday at the Curry County Courthouse. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

Republican incumbents Albin Smith and Tim Ashley will remain on the Curry County Commission.

Ashley held 57 percent of the votes (2,287) in defeating Democrat Paul D. Barnes (1,726 votes) in District 5 on Tuesday.

Each voting location had three precincts, ones for early voting, absentee and election-day votes.

In District 4, Albin Smith held 57 percent of the votes (1,277) to defeat Democratic challenger and former Clovis City Commissioner Gloria Wicker (963 votes).

“To come away with a victory tonight, that feels good,” Ashley said. “It shows that the voters trust me and I am going to work hard these next four years to live up to that trust.”

Ashley, 41, lives in Clovis and owns Clovis Concrete Company. He has been a county commissioner for four years and has been a proponent for alternative housing for prisoners — including tent jails.

Barnes brought a laundry list of experience including 10 years as county commissioner from 1991-2000 and 10 years as a Texico school board member.

But Ashley said his work as a local business owner may have been key in the election.

“I think that as a local business person, I may be more in tune to economic development issues,” Ashley said. “That is one of my strong points.”

Barnes said when he left the commissioner post in 2000, finances were in order.

“I think the people on some issues are being misled by Tim Ashley,” Barnes said. “The finances of the county are in horrible shape and this has happened in the last three years.

“If (voters) like to see taxes raised and no accountability that is who they need to keep in there.”

In District 4, Smith, 52, has spent the last two years serving on the commission.

“I know that the detention center is a big deal and I think we are all still working on things to fix that,” Smith said.

Smith said he has explored the implementation of a drug court to alleviate jail overcrowding.

“I am convinced that our biggest problem here is the drug issue,” he said.

Wicker, 73, lives in Clovis and spent four years on the Clovis City Commission.

“The weather (on Tuesday) interfered. I can promise you, there were a lot of older people that did not go out and vote,” Wicker said. “If you get bad weather they don’t go.”

Wicker said she believes her record as a city commissioner benefited her in the race. Being retired would have given her more time to dedicate to the commission, she said.

“I know that I can do a better job,” Wicker said. “I had so many things lined up that I wanted to do — you can’t imagine.”

Republican Pete Hulder retained his position on the commission. He ran uncontested in District 2.