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While most of the six municipal candidates who appeared at a Wednesday luncheon spoke about their own attributes, two also chose to question the degree of conservatism of some of their opponents and one questioned several actions of the city council.
Wednesday’s Chaves County Federated Republican Women’s Luncheon featured Ward 2 City Council candidates Juliana Halvorson, Joseph Horn and incumbent Margaret Kennard, and Ward 4 candidates Darrell Johnson, Robert Corn and incumbent Daniel Lopez.
Although the municipal race is non-partisan, only Republican candidates spoke at the event.
The order in which the candidates spoke was drawn by lot before the meeting and each candidate had seven minutes to speak.
The Ward 2 candidates spoke first and Kennard, the last to speak in that group, explained that she was the real conservative Republican in the race and tried to draw connections between Halvorson – whom she has described as a friend and mentor. — and Tim Jennings, a former Democratic senator who is running for mayor.
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Kennard said there were similarities between the people who supported both Halvorson and Jennings in their campaign contribution reports.
A review of detailed contribution reports filed on Jan. 4 and Feb. 1 by these two candidates shows one name in common — former city councilor Steve Henderson. He donated $100 to Halvorson, $200 to Jennings and $100 to Ward 3 Councilwoman Judy Stubbs, where he serves as campaign treasurer.
Halvorson’s reports also contain a number of anonymous cash and check donations of various amounts and Jennings’ report also lists cash donations totaling $975 and notes that they are from people giving less than $100 each. Donors of less than $100 do not have to be named on the reports.
Kennard also spoke about her roles as vice-chair of the city council’s infrastructure committee and member of the finance committee, and highlighted her support for City Manager Joe Neeb. She mentioned her votes for an audit of Roswell Chamber of Commerce finances, cutting the city’s budget and increasing its reserve funds, and more money for street projects — and against the state mask mandate.
In his remarks, Halvorson talked about reducing crime and helping businesses grow.
In addition to increasing police and firefighter pay, Halvorson said greater community involvement is needed to help tackle crime in Roswell.
“We need to identify public safety issues and create mechanisms for the community to actively collaborate with law enforcement to improve public safety,” she said.
She praised the Neighborhood Watch program and said it should have social media to let the community know about crimes and help the public report it.
Ward 2’s third candidate, Joseph Horn, said he came to Roswell 22 years ago to retire, like many people.
“I was really looking for Mayberry,” he said of the fictional small town on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“I think I may have found it,” he said.
Horn said he got into politics because he was bored and wanted to see what was happening in Roswell. He spoke against big business and what he said was his experiences with the council and the church.
When Ward 4 Councilman Daniel Lopez spoke, he also targeted one of his opponents, Robert Corn, a former state legislator and Chaves County Commissioner.
Lopez questioned Corn’s campaign slogan of being a “common sense conservative,” saying Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington had to ask for donations for deputies’ safety gear because he had difficulty obtaining county funding. Corn was part of the county commission at that time.
Lopez said he helped form the nonprofit organization Friends of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office in response to a fundraiser, and was endorsed by the Roswell Police Officers Association.
Corn, who spoke before Lopez, reviewed his accomplishments as a state representative, magistrate judge and county commissioner, but quickly turned his attention to rising city fees and ball diamonds. offered in the Cielo Grande recreation area.
He spoke specifically about proposed rental rate increases at Roswell Air Center, including the Alien City Dragway — a topic at a meeting the night before in the same room — and Joe Bauman Stadium, where the team plays. Roswell Invaders professional baseball player.
“You’re going to smother the golden egg hen’s neck if you’re not careful,” he said.
Corn said that while the city did not use local tax money for the ballparks, he criticized the use of state funds for the design process. The city received a statutory grant of $850,000 and used $526,000 to contract with an engineering firm to create a master plan for the ball diamonds.
“I don’t care if it comes from Santa Fe or our own pockets, it’s still taxpayers’ money,” Corn said.
Darrell Johnson, candidate for Ward 4, used his time to update the audience on his journey, including working at Nova Bus for 22 years and being a single parent of two children.
Johnson said he was not the kind of person to sit back and complain and he found that by stepping up he could make a difference. He coached youth baseball and football and when he realized he wanted something better for his career, he quit his job and started working to get a degree.
He got a job with the New Mexico Department of Transportation in 2004 and said he quickly saw where he could make process improvements and reduce waste.
“The higher I got up there, the more I clarified things and realized that there was a lot of budget and there was a lot of opportunity to improve. And I’m going to take those skills and I want to implement them in the city of Roswell,” he said.
“I think I’m the person who can step in and give advice and show that the city of Roswell has a lot of opportunity,” he said.
To follow coverage of this election and other elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.
City Reporter/RISD Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or [email protected]