David Lansford is a former Clovis mayor. He had the job 12 years before stepping down four years ago, opening the door for Gayla Brumfield to best five other candidates for the position.
Now Lansford wants the job back when municipal elections are held March 6.
He says he wants it because he has always enjoyed being in leadership positions. He believes there is a need for city government to listen more to the voices of all citizens.
But Brumfield wants to keep it. She says there is more work to do, particularly with the Ute Water Project, and though she reluctantly sought the job the first time, “I fell in love with the job because I see you can make a difference.”
To hear Lansford tell it, there isn’t much difference between the two.
“We’re both about the same age,” said Lansford, who is 53. “We both care about our families.”
At least, there are probably more similarities than differences between the two, Lansford said.
Brumfield, 58, disagrees. Especially when it comes to what she calls the key issues in the race — the role of government, quality of life, charting a future for Clovis and political philosophies.
Both are business successes. Lansford owns and operates Roden-Smith Pharmacy and said he takes pride in working behind the counter every day. Brumfield owns Coldwell Banker Colonial Real Estate and also works each day.
Neither candidate believes their private business jobs would detract from their performance as mayor.
Ute Water Project
If there is one issue on which both clearly agree, it is water.
Both candidates say it is vital to the very existence of Clovis to secure a dependable source of water. And, they say, Clovis and eastern New Mexico are relying on a dwindling resource.
Official estimates on the life of the Ogalalla aquifer, the source of all the region’s water, range from 10 to 20 years. Each summer, water utilities across the region plead for conservation and ask for lawn watering schedules.
Dry wells at homes south of Clovis forced Curry County commissioners to seek federal money last year to help connect those families to New Mexico American Water lines.
For Brumfield, the solution lies in completing the almost $500 million Ute Water Project, a now-federally authorized plan to pipe fresh water to Clovis and other eastern New Mexico communities. Some 75 percent of that cost is expected to come from federal money.
Brumfield chairs the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, the authority governing the Ute project.
To critics who question if the project will ever see that kind of cash, Brumfield points to almost $3 million in federal money earmarked for the project this year as proof the Ute project will eventually be funded.
“I look at things a little differently than some,” she said. “I can’t change that. That’s who I am. But I believe the funding will happen. I really do.
“The Ute Water Project was out there being talked about for 40 years before I was elected. It’s now not only authorized, it’s funded. That’s huge.”
Lansford, one of the louder Ute water promoters when he was mayor, is skeptical about the $500 million price tag, an estimate he says hasn’t been updated in many years. He said he thinks funding is years away and by then the price could be more like $1 billion.
Lansford said the city needs a short-term plan for its water needs that includes conservation, more extensive re-use of water for such things as lawn watering and coordination of efforts with utility companies.
On enforced water conservation similar to what Portales enacted last summer, Lansford questioned the effectiveness, noting more than 90 percent of water being drawn from the aquifer is for agricultural use.
“I don’t know what all the answers are,” said Lansford. “It’s probably the most complicated issue ... facing this community.”
Quality of life
Much has been said by the two candidates about quality of life and each has a distinctly different view on what that means.
Lansford said beyond providing basic health and safety, such as police and fire protection, his view of quality of life is simple:
“Are you well fed, well clothed, are you able to own a home and have a job to make a living,” Lansford said. “The icing on the cake would be things like recreational opportunities ... parks and things like that. But fundamentally it is really a question of are your basic necessities being met.
“My happiness is really up to me,” said Lansford. “It’s not any government entity’s job to make me happy. That’s a choice I make.”
Brumfield defined quality of life as “the reason that a person would either want to move to an area or stay in an area; what the community has to make sure the family is taken care of.”
Brumfield, in her term as mayor, has spurred the city’s purchase of the former Colonial Park Country Club, a walking trail at Goodwin Lake, renovation of the Youth Recreation Building at Hillcrest Park, a splash park and a dog park, all funded with tax dollars.
“To me,” she said, “that’s quality of life.”
Role of government
Brumfield calls herself a moderate to conservative Democrat.
“I don’t believe in socialism,” she said. “I am a small business owner. I believe in capitalism. I don’t like over-taxation. I don’t believe in over-regulation. But I do believe in working toward some kind of balance.”
Brumfield said she believes government can and should work with small businesses. “That’s who creates the jobs,” she said. “In that respect, I consider myself conservative.”
Lansford prefers a more limited government role in the lives of individuals. He said as a young man, he registered as a Republican but he has rejected that party as well as the Democrats.
“I decided to go with the Constitution Party,” Lansford said. “The Constitution is the absolute fundamental foundation of this country. That’s been my focus, I’d say, for the last three years.”
He said at the local level, government should provide police and fire protection, and basic things such as adequate and safe streets. He said while he supported tax abatements for Southwest Cheese as mayor, he favors business and industry making it without government financial help. Local government should always also be willing to listen to individuals.
“There is a tendency of (local) government to develop a distaste for people who express their opinions,” he said.