Editor’s election blog: Brumfield new mayor; Sunday alcohol sales approved

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis’ Wes Gant received his ballot at Zia Elementary from the judges. Officials at Zia said the turnout at their polling location was greater than they expected.

By David Stevens: Editor

David Lansford would not say prior to the election which candidate he supported to succeed him after 12 years as Clovis’ mayor, but he clearly was pleased with Gayla Brumfield’s victory on Tuesday night.

“I was very, very pleased with the outcome,” he said. “I think Clovis’ momentum will continue … and I’m confident in the future of Clovis and its leadership. It’s a successful night for the city of Clovis.”

• • •

Sunday alcohol sales at Clovis restaurants are not likely to begin until this time next month at the earliest, City Attorney Dave Richards said Tuesday night.

First, the city has to declare the election results official, which will probably be later this week.

Then restaurant owners may begin applying for Sunday alcohol sales licenses from the state.

“It will not be this Sunday for sure, and I would guess it will take a month or more to do all that,” Richards said.

• • •

Election trivia:

• Gayla Brumfield is the first woman mayor in Clovis’ history. She and Gloria Wicker, who finished fourth in this year’s race, are the only women who’ve run for mayor in city history.

• Clovis mayors were not elected by voters until 1996, when David Lansford defeated Brumfield and three other challengers to win his first of three terms. Before 1996, mayors were selected among City Commission members by commissioners.

• Clovis’ first city leaders were elected in 1908. The leader of the Board of Trustees was called chairman until April 1909, when it became mayor. That’s according to historian Don McAlavy’s history book, “Curry County New Mexico.”

• • •

Almost 34 percent of registered voters participated in the municipal election. Only 6.7 percent participated in 2006.

The last time city voters were this excited was 1996 when five candidates ran for mayor and 33.5 percent of the registered voters participated.

In answer to a reader’s question: 1,152 of the 5,303 voters cast ballots early.

The city election had 5,005 voters in 1996, 5,002 in 2000 and 3,398 in 2004.

• • •

Gayla Brumfield is Clovis’ first female mayor and Sunday alcohol sales have been approved.

Unofficial vote totals released by city officials show Brumfield received 1,941 votes, compared to 1,256 for runner-up Rube Render.

Sunday alcohol sales were approved by a vote of 2,966 to 2,298.

Other winners in Clovis on Tuesday:

• Randal Crowder defeated Rosalie Riley, 1,524-669 for District I city commissioner.

• Fred Van Soelen defeated Ben McDaniel, 604-442, for District II city commissioner.

* Robert Sandoval defeated Fidel Madrid, 350-238, for District III city commissioner.

* Chris Bryant defeated David Briseno, 1,059-306 for District IV city commissioner.

• • •

Those favoring Sunday alcohol sales in Clovis narrowly edged those opposed in early and absentee vote totals released by the city — 600 to 538.

Results from Tuesday’s votes have not yet been tallied.

• • •

Gayla Brumfield and Rube Render are early leaders in Clovis’ mayor race.

With absentee ballots only counted, Brumfield has 437 votes and Render has 352, city officials said.

Gloria Wicker is third (139), followed by Tim Ashley (138), Rudy Kumar (45) and Mario Martinez (38).

Long way to go.

• • •

Clovis’ Kathy Morris weighs in on Sunday alcohol sales:

“I think it would be a good law to allow restaurants and bars to serve liquor on Sundays, the very same as any other day,” she wrote in an e-mail.

“The moral question of drinking and how much and when is between God and yourself. Drunkenness is a question of law. Restricting a legal business from selling a legal product such as liquor on (any day) is against the constitutional rights of the business owner.”

• • •

Clovis cast 3,398 votes for mayor in 2004, most of them in favor of incumbent David Lansford.

Those results were:

• 2,474 for Lansford (73 percent)
• 517 for Steve Muscato
• 366 for Raymond Atchley
• 41 non-votes

With six mayor wannabes and Sunday alcohol sales on the ballot, I’m betting we’ll have 6,000 or more voters tonight.

• • •

The first time Gayla Brumfield ran for mayor, she finished a distant second to David Lansford in 1996.

That night she offered a memorable quote, published by the Clovis News Journal: “Being a woman is tough in this town.”

How does she feel in 2008?

“I think that 12 years has made a difference,” she said early Tuesday afternoon. “People know me better.”

And she said she thinks society, and Clovis, has progressed in the past 12 years.

“But I will tell you, I’ve heard some comments … point blank … from a few people that said they would have a hard time voting for a woman,” she said. “It’s a very small minority, maybe three or four people. The rest have been wonderful.” 

I’ve not heard anybody say they would not vote for a woman, but I’ve heard several troubling comments from locals who’ve aimed racial slurs at Barack Obama.

Scary stuff.

But as Brumfield said, people who discriminate against women and minorities are fading away, or at least becoming less vocal.

Thank goodness.

• • •

I asked Clovis mayoral candidates what they plan to be doing on Wednesday.

Here’s what they said:

• Gayla Brumfield — “I’m gonna rest. If I win, I’m going to kinda see what I need to do, get the (city) calendar and all that, but at some point I’m going to rest a little. I tell you what, I don’t understand how those presidential (candidates) do it, and they go for a year or more. Some of them probably don’t know what town they’re in.”

• Rube Render — “I normally go to James Bickley on Wednesdays … so I’ll do that. Then I want to go make sure I pick up my campaign signs. I’ll ensure those are up, and then go from there.”

• Gloria Wicker — “I’m gonna have to think on that.”

• Tim Ashley — “My life doesn’t end or begin with being mayor of Clovis. I have a family that I’m extremely involved in, and a business that I operate, as well as serving out my term as (Curry) County commissioner. Tomorrow will very much resemble today, other than if I’m elected there will sure be some anxiety about what’s upcoming and getting in over my ankles.”

• Mario Martinez — “If weather is permitting, I am going fishing. Unless I win. If I’m the winner, I’m going to start cleaning windows right away.”

• Rudy Kumar — “I’m going to wait until tonight to find out about tomorrow.”

• • •

I asked Clovis mayoral candidates what they will remember the most about this election.

Here’s what they said:

• Gayla Brumfield — “I will remember all of the interest and all of the forums. When you count Rotary and a women’s sorority, there were seven in all. … I think that was good. I think the public wanted to know (about the candidates), and the more the public knows, the better.”

• Rube Render — “One, the amount of effort that it takes to do this. Anybody running for any public office deserves the thanks of the public, I really believe that. The next thing is the support that you receive from folks. It’s very gratifying that they would help you in an endeavor to try to do something like this.”

• Gloria Wicker — “Probably the number of candidates that have declared themselves, and also for all of the interest it seems that everybody has all over town. The forums have added to that. I think it’s been very exciting and I think it’s been very well run and very clean. I haven’t seen any disrespect (for candidates) really.”

• Tim Ashley — “I think No. 1, knowing that there was a commonality in a lot of the issues that each of the candidates had interest in. But even though there was commonality, there was a lot of diversity about those issues. The voting public has a wide variety of choice — some very wide-varying ideas of how to address those issues.”

• Mario Martinez — “The forums … attending all the forums. They’re all good memories. Everybody has been so kind to each other; there’s no mudslinging … no popping off questions that shouldn’t be asked. We’ve showed respect to each other, and I’ve become real close to people I wouldn’t have known.”

• Rudy Kumar — “I think that I’ve implemented some change indirectly. I think I was an awakener for a lot of people, that yes, there are a lot of problems in Clovis.”

• • •

Polls are closed and the counting is under way.

Clovis municipal elections tend to go fairly quickly — less than an hour sometimes — but let’s not jinx ourselves.