Candidates for Curry County offices have from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file for three seat commission seats and the offices of treasurer and county clerk in the June 5 primary election.
Up for grabs on the commission are the District 2 position held by Dan Stoddard, the District 4 seat held by Wendell Bostwick and the District 5 position held by Caleb Chandler.
Here’s how the races are shaping up by party affiliation:
• Stoddard and Bostwick each say they intend to file for re-election.
• Chandler has announced he is retiring and would not be seeking any elected public office.
• Clovis businessman Ben McDaniel announced Saturday he would be running against Stoddard.
• Tim Ashley, a former county commissioner, has confirmed he will be seeking Chandler’s seat in the June 5 primary election.
• County Clerk Coni Jo Lyman has announced she is retiring. “I started my 27th year and I think it’s time for some new blood,” Lyman said. Chief Deputy Clerk Beni Dampier plans to file for the office Tuesday.
• Treasurer Bernice Baker did not return several telephone calls regarding her status as a candidate.
• Former District 5 Commissioner Paul D. Barnes of Pleasant Hill said he hasn’t decided yet, though he has been encouraged to run.
• Eastern New Mexico University assistant professor Jonathan Wilson said he will run for treasurer.
Stoddard, seeking his second term, could be facing a dilemma because of his dual status as a county and Clovis city commissioner.
Should Stoddard survive McDaniel’s challenge in the primary and win the November general election, he must decide which of the two seats — county or city — he will vacate.
On March 6, Clovis voters overwhelmingly approved a city charter revision that bans dual service.
Stoddard said only that he “will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Stoddard said he believes the key issues in the race are expanding and renovating of the jail, moving forward with the Ute Water Project, supporting expansion at Cannon Air Force Base and improving county roads.
McDaniel cited infrastructure issues (roads) and the need to “address our detention center (jail) infrastructure within our current tax base” while providing all necessary services to taxpayers.
The county commission is asking voters to approve a $9.3 million bond issue to help expand and renovate the existing jail. Voters will decide on April 3.
Commissioners say the bond would enable necessary expansion of the jail without creating a new tax. The plan is to pay off an Events Center bond issue some two years early. The county would then extend the tax voters approved for the Events Center another 20 years for jail improvements.
No one has announced yet that they plan to challenge Bostwick, who is the newly appointed chairman of the commission.
Bostwick, a Melrose rancher, is seeking his second four-year term. He said it has always been his intention to serve a second term.
“I think the future’s very, very bright for Curry County,” Bostwick said, “and I would like to be a part of shaping that success for Curry County.”
Bostwick said plans to build the new power transfer superstation Tres Amigas will mean more jobs. Additionally, he said expansion at Cannon Air Force Base will continue to pump up the local economy.
“To me,” Bostwick said “it’s a very exciting time. I hope I’m making a difference. I think I’m making a difference.”
Bostwick estimated he now spends about three days each week just working as a commissioner. Lately, much of that time is consumed by promoting adoption of the jail bond issue, he said, adding that serving as county commissioner is at least a part-time job.
“I got it figured out,” he said in jest, “once you figure the time you put in, it (pays) just over 50 cents an hour.”
Ashley, owner of Clovis Concrete Co., cites his business experience and former service as a two-term county commissioner as qualifications. He was term-limited from seeking the position in 2008, when Chandler defeated Democrat Barnes.
“I think I can do a good job for Curry County,” Ashley said. “One thing that I bring ... is my experience in business in the community. I want to apply that to county government.”
Ashley said he hasn’t decided his position on the $9.3 million bond issue. He is awaiting a presentation by new jail Administrator Gerry Billy later this month to the High Plains Patriots.
“I know,” Ashley said, “that the county desperately needs to do something about inmate population.” The county spent $770,000 last year to house inmates outside the county.
“I know that something needs to happen,” Ashley said, “and I know it needs to be something prudent and financially responsible.”
Dempier has worked in the clerk’s office 20 of the 21 years she has lived in Clovis. She has worked every job in the office, now serving as chief deputy clerk.
“I look forward to it and I’m ready for the challenge,” Dempier said. “I feel I’ve come to the point where that’s the next step.”
In addition to being an assistant college professor, Wilson is treasurer of the Curry County Democrats.
Wilson, who earned a Ph.D. at University of Texas at Arlington, said he hopes to bring education, leadership and synergy to the office.