By David Irvin
As the election cycle begins to wind down, there are some candidates who never really broke a sweat.
A number of uncontested races in eastern New Mexico were made official Tuesday, and although the candidates didn’t have to spar over the issues in the closing days of the election, they certainly have ideas for the upcoming term.
Curry County District 2 Commissioner Pete Hulder, a Republican, said the biggest issue facing the county is the overcrowded jail situation.
“We have been shipping approximately 100 people out of county, and it’s a pretty expensive proposition,” he said.
He said the county could reduce the number of inmates being sent elsewhere by renovating an existing property and creating a jail annex, a move that would keep inmate housing expenditures in this economy.
Matthew Chandler, who ran unopposed for 9th Judicial District Attorney, said crime can be reduced in his first term through aggressive prosecution. Chandler beat out outgoing District Attorney Brett Carter in the Republican primary for the office earlier this year.
“As far as crime goes, I think that crime in our district, particularly in Curry is at an all-time high. We are seeing more drugs and violent crimes,” Chandler said. “We need to go after these people and hold them accountable through vigorous prosecution, go after strict punishment for violent crimes and against repeat offenders.”
Chandler is likely to be appointed district attorney before his term is set to begin in January, because Carter has accepted the district defender’s position and begins this month.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Joe Parker, a Republican, said the development of a drug court is key to resolving drug and alcohol abuse in the area. He also said the pressure on the current court docket system could be alleviated if another district judge was added, a move that would require approval by the state Legislature.
County Clerk Mario Trujillo, a Democrat, said a new statute requiring the county to report by district is causing some problems with provisional-ballot privacy issues. He believes the Legislature will move to fix these voting issues in the future.
District 27 Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the state should not spend dollars from gas and oil revenues that may not be recurring. He also hopes to keep taxes down in his district.
“We have a lot of money coming into the state from oil and gas revenue,” Ingle said. “As far as funding higher education (the money needs to be reccurring). I want to make sure we don’t go too far advanced in funding for things that go to education and (other reccurring programs).”
District 42 Sen. Gay G. Kernan, R-Hobbs, said taking care of the state and educational retirees is at the top of her list.
“Of course the issues are basically the same statewide,” she said. “We have a lot of uninsured people in the state. I want to make sure that we don’t do anything further to damage the retirees and their health plan.”
District 64 Rep. Anna M. Crook, R-Clovis, agreed Medicaid is a big issue this session and she will work with other representatives toward solutions.
“My constituents are concerned over the retiree health care,” she said. “Of course Medicaid is a big issue. We were $120 million over and it’s growing at a 11-percent rate.”
District 67 Rep. Brian K. Moore, R-Clayton, 9th Judicial District Judge Teddy L. Hartley, a Democrat, and District 9 Public Education Commissioner Dennis James Roch, a Republican, also ran unopposed, but could not be reached for comment.