DeBaca sheriff’s race includes Roosevelt County deputy

By Gabriel Monte, Freedom New Mexico

After publicly announcing his intention to run for De Baca County sheriff, Melrose Police Chief Lee Ferguson was not among the four candidates who filed for the position Tuesday.

Melrose Mayor Lance Pyle said Wednesday that Ferguson is still the village’s police chief. He said Ferguson approached him during a village council meeting Thursday and said he would not run for the De Baca County position.

“He told me due to personal reasons, he will not be seeking the (De Baca County) sheriff’s office,” said Pyle, who is also Melrose’s personnel and village administrator.

According to state bylaws, candidates have to live in the county or own property in the county in which they are running for office.

Ferguson, who could not be reached for comment, announced his intention to run for De Baca County position in late February, but later learned a village policy would require him to take a leave of absence without pay or resign from his position.

After learning about the rule he said he still planned to run for sheriff.

Ferguson was never taken off the village’s payroll, said Pyle, who would not comment further on personnel matters.

The De Baca County Sheriff receives a salary of $32,884 plus benefits. The Melrose Police Chief receives a salary of $28,641 plus benefits.

Democrats Dennis Cleaver, Kurt Griego and John Mares and Republican Paul Fishell filed for the De Baca County sheriff spot, which has been open since Jimmy Butterfield resigned in January after five months on the job. He was the sixth sheriff in a row to resign before the end of a term.

Cleaver and Fishell are De Baca County Sheriff’s deputies. Griego is a Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputy. Mares resigned Wednesday as the Texico police chief effective March 28.