KRWG

Commentary: Important Choices In Las Cruces Area Elections

Nov 3, 2019

Commentary: There are some local election races many folks don't know much about.

The Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District (“DASWCD”) has been a rancher-dominated board, largely out of step with the county's views. When most people favored creating the Monument, DASWCD unanimously wrote President Obama opposing it. Fortunately, DASWCD is changing, and now includes both environmentalists and ranchers. 

Ranchers bring invaluable knowledge of the land, but represent only one interest. A conservative state commission annually appoints two of the seven board-members, most always ranchers. This election, three seats are in play. Everyone in the District can vote in all three races. 

Kurt Anderson challenges Board Chair Jerry Schickedanz. Both are good men. Both are retired NMSU professors. Anderson has become expert on water, and sits on a local water consumer association and the LRG Regional Water Planning Steering Committee. Schickedanz is expert in range management, and brings useful knowledge that somewhat duplicates that of ranchers. 

Anderson appears more wholly aware of the need to fight climate-change, and more fully focused on conservation.

Fernando Clemente challenges incumbent David Martinez. Clemente is a wildlife biologist who works with public and private landowners to foster responsible land stewardship. He's also a sportsman. He's also on the Wildlife Federation board. Martinez is part of the DASWCD old guard. 

 

Chris Cardenas challenges recent appointee Josh Smith are running. This race is a closer call. Both are lawyers. Smith has a ranching background. Cardenas owns a small pecan orchard. Smith seems more in tune with environmental concerns than other board-members. Cardenas is a committed conservationist who supports urban gardens and community projects that both educate and provide land stewardship opportunities. 

 

Anderson, Clemente, and Cardenas are smart and resourceful conservationists who'll focus on helping the DASWCD do more of the environmental protection work it should be doing. 

We'll also elect a new Las Cruces Presiding Municipal Judge. Judge Joy Goldbaum, after two years as the second municipal judge, wants to preside over significant improvements. Muni Court hears minor crimes, violations of city ordinances. With defendants who can't pay their fines, the court hasn't been fully utilizing community service opportunities with local non-profits. When people fail to show up and get socked with additional penalties they can't pay, jailing them wastes our money and screws up lives. Goldbaum has been trying to change that. Her opponent, former Magistrate Judge Richard Jacquez, is also a fine candidate who seems to favor the same improvements. I'd love to see Judge Goldbaum as Presiding Judge and Judge Jacquez appointed as second municipal judge. A good team.

Regarding the LCPS Board, I support Ed Frank and Teresa Tenofrio. I've been particularly impressed by Frank's handling of some recent tough situations, responding to attacks with candor and blunt speaking. 

Kasandra Gandara has been an able and energetic city councilor, who's shown she can fulfill all the duties of a city councilor. Her challenger has rightly advocated better accessibility and strict compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. No one on the council disagrees. The city should fully comply. 

Johana Bencomo has my vote in District 4, with Antoinette Reyes is a close second. I wish we could combine the best of both. 

Tessa Abeyta Stuve (District 2) is another topnotch candidate. Philip Van Veen is a solid businessman. Each does much for our community and would be an able councilor. I'd likely vote for Tessa, but Philip would diversify the council.

Please vote!