Candidate Profiles: County Commission District 5

Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asked District 5 Curry
County Commission candidates to answer the following questions in 300
words or less. The answers were edited for spelling and style. The
primary is June 3.

Charles H. Guthals

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 71

Occupation: Business owner.

Previously elected offices: CCC Board of Trustees, Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education.

What is your long-term vision for the county? And how will you plan for that?
My
long-term vision for Curry County includes actively seeking
agriculture-related industries. Along with ag-related industry, we need
to be very aware of their water needs since water is one of our most
precious commodities. I would prefer to see growth in the county at a
slow, steady pace rather than a booming pace. Too fast of a growth rate
could bring related problems, not the least of which could limit our
capacity to maintain our infrastructure and seriously deplete our water
supply.
I believe we need to work more closely with our city
commission and our Clovis Industrial Development Corp. in searching for
new industry for our area because in so doing we avoid costly
duplication in the search process.

Are you in favor of zoning or creating an ordinance to clean up the county?
As
a community we need to put our best foot forward in this regard. I
believe this is even more critical when you consider Clovis is the
gateway to the west-central part of New Mexico. So, that first
impression is important not only for our city but also the state. I
also believe that we need to pay particular attention to our entry
roads since that is the only area some visitors see and that is how
they make their opinion of Clovis. As I previously stated at a
candidate forum, if there are existing zoning regulations or ordinances
on the books governing weed control, trash removal or fence building to
block from view such offenses, we need only to enforce those rules
rather than enact new rules that may or may not be enforced.

What do think the county should do to address water conservation?
We
can all agree that without water our community and county cannot exist.
As we see our water table lowering on an annual basis, a solution to
the potential crisis needs to come sooner rather than later. The city
is currently looking at cleaning sewer effluent to within one class of
potable water for use in watering parks, athletic fields and other
public areas. When implemented, this would generate over 3 million
gallons of water a day. The Ute pipeline is still in the offering as
water for use in irrigation.
Still another possibility for water
is to drill deeper than our current supply and bring that water to the
surface. That source would require desalination before the water could
be used, but the technology for desalination is available. In our
nursery, we are doing more and more xeriscaping, which reduces water
consumption but we dare not forget the importance of plants in our
world since trees and shrubs are nature’s air cleaners and a small lawn
of 2,500 square-feet produces enough oxygen for a family of four.

What do you consider the county’s greatest need today? And how should we resolve this issue?
Probably
our greatest need in the immediate future is to finish the special
events center. Nothing I can think of in the recent past has generated
as many comments pro and con as the event center. Whether you were for
it or against it, the fact remains it’s about to become a reality and
now we must join hands in a spirit of unity and bring events to Clovis
to help maintain their new facility. We’re an agricultural community in
a rural area of the state, so to my way of thinking
agricultural-related events should top the list as show possibilities.
Things like equipment expos, special cattle shows and equestrian events
would be naturals as possible uses for the new center.

What is your stance on alcohol sales at the Curry County Special Events Center?
It
would be difficult for someone to convince me that absolutely no
alcohol has ever been consumed at any event at the Curry County
Fairgrounds. That being a given, I would probably be in favor of
alcohol sales in the new special events center, not alone for the
revenue stream it would generate, but for better control on how much is
consumed and by whom.

What can county commissioners do to avoid any more‚
“unaccounted for funds,” in light of the money missing from the 2007
county fair?

I’m sure the current commission and county manager
are in the process of instituting new policies and guidelines for the
handling of funds derived from events held in the name of Curry County.
At a minimum, when receipts are collected for events, these funds
should be counted in private immediately after the event by at least
two people. The total amount must be agreed upon by both parties and
the money placed in a locked bank bag and taken immediately to a local
bank night deposit. When signing checks for the county, a minimum of
two signatures should be required at all times. I’m not sure anyone can
be completely sure that no one will ever abscond with public funds, but
we as commissioners and county manager must use every means at our
disposal to see that the opportunity does not present itself in the
future.

Caleb Chandler

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired magistrate judge

Previous elected offices: Curry County magistrate judge, New Mexico senator

What is your long-term vision for the county? And how will you plan for that?
A
smooth transition to accommodate the growth that I am expecting in
Curry County will require careful planning. My long-term plan for Curry
County is to create a five- and 10-year plan by setting realistic goals
and objectives that can be achieved within sound revenue projections.
The plan must include:
1. Prioritizing the improvement of county roads, while maintaining all other county roads.
2.
Reassessment of the Curry County detention facility, which consumes a
major portion of the county’s budget. An improved inmate classification
system could result in housing minimum security inmates in a lower-cost
minimum security facility. A study to determine if privatization of the
detention center is an option that would save tax dollars.
3. A
smooth transition of Cannon Air Force Base. The plan to assist Cannon
must include extra ordinary efforts to include our military personnel
in the family of Curry County citizens. Our military men and women must
be included in the planning process.
4. Phased improvements at the
fairgrounds and a plan of action resulting in year-round use of the
fairgrounds and the events center.
5. A multi-phased plan to
beautify our main corridors by planting trees and other vegetation that
require very little water. This plan should be accomplished by
partnerships of city, county and state governments. The railroad should
join the partnership where there are railroad right-of-ways.
6. A plan to assure that we have an adequate supply of water.
The
plan to accomplish these goals and objectives must include input from
interested citizens who have expertise in the subject of the plan and
we must be strongly committed to follow through with the plan.


Are you in favor of zoning or creating an ordinance to clean up the county?

I
believe zoning the county would create more problems than it would
solve and I do not favor zoning. An additional ordinance is premature
and should only be enacted as a last resort.
I do believe we must
take immediate action to clean up and beautify our main corridors. This
should be done through a partnership with city, county and state and
should involve the railroad when there are railroad right-of-ways.
Local and state governments must lead this effort by example. By
leading the effort to keep public property clean and through a
multi-phased plan of planting trees and other types of vegetation that
require little water, we can motivate private property owners to do the
same. The value of these properties should increase much more than the
cost of improvements. I believe many individuals and civic clubs will
donate their time to assist in this effort if they are convinced that
it is a priority of our local governments.
We should explore the
possibility of designating certain days when all county residents could
take refuge to the landfill free of charge. City and county employees
could be allowed certain work days to lead citizen volunteers in
picking up trash on our roadways. Supervised non-violent inmates who
are not a flight risk could clean roadways in return for good time
credit.
Some existing ordinances may need to be modified to increase fines for those convicted of dumping trash on county roads.
The
county commission should create a forum for citizens who are interested
in beautification of our county. Some of the best ideas come from
citizens who are proactive in a positive way.
We must also realize this plan can only be accomplished through a joint effort of all citizens of our county.

What do think the county should do to address water conservation?
Water conservation is a critically important issue in Curry County.
Curry
County has already incorporated water conservation measures as part of
the county subdivision regulation. As an example, xeriscaping is a type
of landscaping that can significantly reduce outdoor water use and is
becoming increasingly popular because it not only saves water but also
reduces watering costs.
The county needs to support the important
work of the Curry County Soil and Water Conservation District and the
County Extension Service since public education is one of the most
effective means of bringing down the average daily per capita water use.
Irrigated
agriculture holds the most promise for potentially significant savings
through conservation and management. Much is being done to improve
efficiency in water diversion, delivery, distribution and application.
Over the past several years, irrigation systems have continued to
increase in efficiency due to improved technology and management
techniques.
While dairies sometimes get blamed for excessive water
use, dairies actually use less water than traditional agriculture
because the water rights for commercial dairies is reduced to 1.7
acre-feet per acres from the 3 acre-feet per acre for traditional
crops. Also, dairies utilize reclamation practices that provide for
reuse of the water for multiple purposes.
The county needs to
support the U.S. Geological Survey monitoring program, which provides
for periodic measurements of static water levels in wells throughout
the county.
State statutes and regulatory policies regarding conservation could be improved by:
1. Providing an improved definition of water conservation in state law to define conservation as a beneficial use;
2. Provide state tax credits for qualified conservation investments; and
3. Policies that encourage voluntary conservation investments in upgraded technology.

The county should do everything possible to promote wise stewardship of our limited water resources.

What do you consider the county’s greatest need today? And how should we resolve this issue?
I
believe the greatest long-term problem of the county is the declining
Ogallala water basin. I have believed this to be a major problem for
over 30 years. In 1981, during the time I was a state senator
representing Curry County, I sponsored legislation that authorized
$10.5 million in bonds to complete construction of the spillway gates
and increase the height of the dam at Ute Lake by 27 feet. This
increased the total capacity of Ute Lake from 109,600 acre-feet of
water to 272,800 acre-feet of water. This was one of the early efforts
to capture water and deliver it to eastern New Mexico by pipeline.
Since that time our elected officials and many others have worked to
make the pipeline a reality. We must continue these efforts. We must
also take measures to conserve water, but even with the best
conservation effort it is predicted that the Ogallala will no longer be
a viable source of water in 20 to 50 years. The Ogallala runs east into
Texas and although we conserve, others may not.
We also must continue to explore other sources of water such as desalination of water.

What is your stance on alcohol sales at the Curry County Special Events Center?
Voters
are divided on the issue of alcohol sales at the event center. The
decision of an adult to drink an alcoholic beverage is a decision of
individual choice. Our laws state that government will not interfere
with that decision unless the individual becomes intoxicated and
infringes on someone else’s rights or becomes a danger to the community.
Although
I would vote no at a referendum, I have a strong belief that elected
officials should not represent their personal interests; rather they
must represent the interests of the majority of their constituents.
Elected officials should also make decisions based on all the facts. At
this time, all the facts are not known. We need to know how revenues
and losses will be affected by the sale or lack of sales of alcohol. We
need to understand the liability to the county and the additional cost
of insurance to cover that liability. Questions about security and law
enforcement as well as questions regarding rules relating to serving
alcohol and the training of alcohol servers to assure minors and
individuals who are becoming intoxicated are not served, have not been
answered. These questions should be answered and made public so that
informed decisions can be made.
Because I feel strongly that this
issue should be decided in favor of the majority of the constituency,
my first preference would be to allow voters to vote on the issue.
Based
on my conversations with voters at this time the majority seems to
favor alcohol sales; however there are many who have not had the
opportunity to express their views. I will continue to seek input from
voters and if this issue is not resolved when I take office in January
2009, I will cast my vote to represent the majority of my constituency.

What can county commissioners do to avoid any more‚
“unaccounted for funds”, in light of the money missing from the 2007
county fair?

These are the audit findings regarding the missing funds as I understand them:
The
audit was requested after the county administration was unable to
receive accurate figures from the treasurer’s office on gate receipts.
The audit found that there is over $13,000 in gate receipts that cannot be found.
Although
the audit did not disclose any significant deficiencies in Curry
County’s internal controls, we obviously need a better system of checks
and balances.
Since I am not a county commissioner at this time I
am not in a position to totally evaluate the problem, but I would offer
a few suggestions.
All gate passes should be numbered and there
should be documentation of names of individuals approved by the county
commission for donated tickets. There should be an accounting of fair
gate receipts after each shift. The accounting should be done by one
person and verified by a second person. Receipts should be deposited
nightly.
The fees for rental of county facilities should be paid in advance to the county administration.

Paul D. Barnes

Party affiliation: Democrat

Age: 65

Occupation: Farming/ranching

Previous elected offices: Curry County Farm Bureau, Texico Board of Education, Curry County Commission

What is your long-term vision for the county? And how will you plan for that?

Curry County is one of the most diverse counties in New Mexico. We
prosper from agriculture, Cannon Air Force Base and the railroad. The
key to a thriving economy is diversification, variation in industries
and the ability to create more jobs using the resources that are
available. We need to create a greater availability of education and
vocational training through the various school districts and Clovis
Community College. By providing job training to area youth, we will
provide a greater workforce for potential industries and employers and,
at the same time, create skilled labor. This will take our youth off
the streets and provide opportunity. The future of our community will
fall upon our children and their ability to provide opportunity and
skills to those who have limited resources, all the while, reducing our
crime rate and the number of juveniles that are incarcerated. The only
assets we leave on this earth are our children and the future we
provide for them.
Agriculture has been the primary livelihood of
this community. The actions we take to make agriculture sustainable,
will mean, as a community, that we will have to make hard decisions in
the future pertaining to our use and conservation of our greatest
resource, our water supply.
I will work hard to see that the county
maintains a balanced budget, avoids future tax increases, and brings in
jobs and industry that fit within our community profile while
protecting our limited resources and protecting our environment.

Are you in favor of zoning or creating an ordinance to clean up the county?
First
of all, I feel this is a two part question; there are significant
differences between zoning and creating a nuisance ordinance. The
county has dealt with this issue in the past through a resolution
aligned with a state ordinance.
I feel that an ordinance is
necessary, and that ordinance should be considered only by setting up a
committee of all local interested parties in the county. A series of
public meetings should be held to allow public input and the
finalization of such an ordinance.
Our forefathers considered
private property rights as a part of our rights as citizens. I am very
supportive of private property rights and feel that by creating zoning
we must be careful not to impose on our private property rights and
that we only consider pubic health and safety issues as related to the
zoning of Curry County.
I realize that we have issues in the county
that pertain to cleaning up properties that impact the appearance of
our communities. I am for providing incentives and programs to area
residents to clean up properties. Clean-up days, free use of local
landfill, use of county and city employees and equipment, use of county
inmates from the detention center, using troubled youth through teen
court referrals. Work with and provide easy access to various recycling
companies. At present, scrap iron is at record high price, therefore,
we should all take advantage of current market conditions.

What do think the county should do to address water conservation?
The
biggest issue facing the entire Southwest is the future of our water
supply. I feel it is political suicide to address this issue, but being
totally honest about the solution and the cure, as a candidate, I am
prepared to tackle this issue head on. We must put water conservation
practices in place to protect the future of our communities and the
entire region. I am for the adjudication of water rights and the
metering of agricultural irrigation wells. The state of Kansas has
metered their agricultural wells for several decades; the Pecos Valley
Irrigation district in Roswell has metered irrigation wells since the
60s. I propose that the county commission require the New Mexico State
(Engineer’s Office) to adjudicate water rights and allow agricultural
usage at 15 acre feet over a five-year period, as has been done in
other areas. The past 15 years, considering our current farming
practices, we have doubled the usage of agricultural water. Agriculture
would be restricted to usage and eliminate double-cropping farming
practices. Metering of wells would allow our farm economy to be
sustainable and extend the Ogallala Aquifer for future generations. We
must implement conservation practices in the entire region, but must
start first in our own backyard.
The urban areas should all utilize
the effluent from their city wastewater plants to minimize fresh water
usage, as is being proposed by the city of Clovis at present. The
municipalities and county must work together in establishing water
usage and conservation practices. The USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service should be involved to helping implement policies
and practices that will further aid in this process.

What do you consider the county’s greatest need today? And how should we resolve this issue?
Attempt
to avoid future tax increases; I am concerned that our tax base could
erode due to a decline in agricultural production, considering the
depletion of our water table. We must bring in new industry and
business that can contribute to our tax base and minimize the limited
use of our water resources. We must provide for better educational and
vocational training of our youth and citizens. We can provide a greater
resource for incoming businesses and industry that might consider
locating in Curry County. Trained and skilled workers are a must to
increase our tax base. Education and availability of good paying jobs
should also help in reducing our crime rate by providing better
opportunity for citizens. If you are going to take people out of
poverty, you must educate them and provide jobs. Judge (Ted) Hartley
has a program within his adult drug court that should be expanded into
juvenile drug court where these individuals are utilized in the
clean-up of our communities. Let them become part of the solution
rather than the problem.
We must improve infrastructure, roads,
recreation, etc. We should utilize the options of grants to improve the
appearance of the communities. Areas where buildings are an eyesore
must be addressed in order to attract new businesses. Leaders in
government must listen to the needs of all citizens not just a few with
special interests.
One of our greatest resources is wind and the
availability of organic waste streams from livestock operations. The
state of New Mexico is mandating that utility companies take a
specified portion of their energy from green energy. Considering the
availability of wind and the organic waste streams of animal
operations, Curry County should become very proactive in exploiting
these resources.

What is your stance on alcohol sales at the Curry County Special Events Center?
I
think the commission should point out the pros and cons of the sale of
alcohol and, by a referendum vote, let the citizens decide the issue as
they did on the bond issue to build the events center.

What can county commissioners do to avoid any more
“unaccounted for” funds in light of the money missing from the 2007
county fair?

The Curry County Fair Board, which is elected by
the people, by district, should be responsible for the management and
operation of the fairgrounds as it was in the past. The fair board was
accountable to the commission and the citizens of Curry County. The
fair board, in the past, has accounted for the proceeds and was audited
by an independent auditing firm as well as being audited by the
independent firm doing the county auditing. The results were documented
and presented to the Curry County Commission. If it wasn’t broke, why
fix it!

— Compiled by CNJ Staff Writer Gabriel Monte