Just one county race up for voters

By Ashley Lee and Karl Terry: PNT staff

In a general election that is heated nationally, Roosevelt County residents have little to get excited about with just one contested race locally.

Despite that fact, the turnout for early voting seems to be strong, according to County Clerk Janet Collins.

Early voting ended at 6 p.m. Friday, and by Thursday night Collins said that 1,032 people had voted including mailed-in absentee ballots. Of that total only 127 had used the early-voting alternate location with the rest voting at the clerk’s office or by mail.

“I think we have had a really good turnout so far,” Collins said.

Roosevelt County voters will decide one contested county commission seat this election. In the county commission District 3 seat, Democrat Tom Clark is losing his seat to term limits and Republican Billy B.

Cathey is facing off with Democrat Charles D. Bennett. Incumbent Democrat County Commissioners Gene Creighton and Paul Grider in Districts 4 and 5, respectively, are uncontested from the Republican side.

Also uncontested in the general election is sheriff’s candidate Darren Hooker, who defeated incumbent Tom Gossett in the Republican primary in June.

Cathey said he’s ready to get the election over with, and feels his chances are good but believes it will be a close race.

“I felt like I would benefit the community, my district and the whole county,” Cathey said of his reasons for running.

Charles Bennett did not return phone calls before press time Saturday, but in an earlier interview voiced his reasons for running.

“I think that everybody should contribute time or talent to the community,” Bennett said. “This is my way of giving back. My kids are gone and so I have more time. I also think that it could be a great challenge, and I love challenges.”

While their outcome is subject to statewide approval, two bond questions have a direct effect on institutions locally.

Bond B would provide $118 million for capital projects at the state’s institutions of higher learning. If approved it would provide money to renovate Eastern New Mexico University’s music building. It would also provide construction money for Clovis Community College.

Bond C would provide money for the state’s libraries. Included would be dollars for the Portales Public Library, ENMU’s Golden Library and the public school libraries.

“I think we’ve done all we can to present the positive aspects of Bond B and C,” ENMU President Steven Gamble said Saturday. “We think we’ve done a good job of getting the word out there. We just hope the voters support us.”

Gamble and CCC President John Neibling have tackled the campaign together in eastern New Mexico, making appearances at club meetings and functions in both Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Collins says that a presidential election is always better than a midterm election, but this year’s outlook looks to be on par with previous midterm elections.

In the 2004 presidential election, approximately 7,105 voters of the 11,591 registered voted for a 61 percent turnout. In that election approximately 2,000 ballots were cast early, according to Collins. By contrast, Collins said the 2002 midterm election brought out approximately 4,000 voters total.

In the June primaries 2,131 total voters cast a ballot.

Other positions on the ballot include one U.S. Senate race, a U.S. Congress slot, governor, secretary of state and state land commissioner.