Ferguson to seek reelection as Eddy County assessor
CARLSBAD — Eddy County Assessor Gemma Ferguson is announcing she will be seeking re-election for a second term in the June primary election.
A Carlsbad native, Ferguson comes with much knowledge in regards to county lands and property. She is the daughter of Otis famers the late Larry Ferguson and Madelene Ferguson. Ferguson is very involved with the community, serving in the past as president of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, a United Way board member, and as a former Eddy County Fair Board member.
Ferguson is very active as well with the Lions Club, currently serving as the district governor for the southern portion of New Mexico and a current board member for the Carlsbad Downtown Lions Club. She is an active member of St. Edward’s Church and sings for the 11th Hour choir.
Her education background includes being a graduate of Carlsbad High School, earning her AA from NMSU at Carlsbad, and receiving her bachelor’s from the College of the Southwest. She holds the required certifications from the IAAO and is a New Mexico Certified Appraiser through the State of N.M. Property Tax Division. She is also a graduate of the NMAC Edge programs with designations as a Certified Public Officer, Certified Public Supervisor, Certified Advocate for Public Ethics and Certified Pubic Assessment Officer.
Ferguson is the mother of one daughter and a grandson, who currently reside in Ruidoso.
As the current assessor, Ferguson’s office has 18 employees. Each one of these employees are vital to the proper assessment of values in the county. Serving as the current assessor for the past six years, she has proven her experience and education, as well her integrity and honesty, which are vital to the operations of the Assessor’s Office.
Ferguson feels with the tremendous growth in Eddy County, the Assessor’s Office needs to have the consistency her re-election will bring.
Brown announces reelection bid for District 55 representatve
CARLSBAD — Cathrynn N. Brown, R-Eddy, plans to seek another term representing District 55 in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
The district covers the eastern half of Eddy County, including the communities of Loving, Malaga, Otis, Carlsbad, Artesia, and Loco Hills.
Currently in her fourth term, Brown is a full-time volunteer legislator who has been a leading voice for improving roads, highways, and infrastructure in southeastern New Mexico. She strongly supports the oil & gas industry, WIPP, the potash industry, agriculture, and education.
Brown points to a number of accomplishments made during her tenure.
Over the past eight years, Brown has addressed difficult issues on behalf of residents in the County. Brown has relentlessly worked to preserve lives, livelihoods and prevent an economic loss of nearly one billion dollars that could result from the looming threat of a devastating cave-in of the abandoned I&W brine well cavity in south Carlsbad. When no one wanted to take responsibility for remediation, Brown sponsored legislation in 2016 and 2017 to compel action.
Her efforts led to the formation of a brine well authority that works with the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to devise a plan of action and identify a contractor for the work. As a result, Brown says, “A contractor was selected in December, and negotiations are underway. There will be a corrective action plan soon.” Over the past several weeks, Brown and other elected officials from southeastern New Mexico have been pushing hard during the current legislative session to secure the funding needed for remediation. The project is expected to cost approximately $40 million dollars and take about two years.
With equal perseverance, Brown continues to tackle problems related to improving road conditions and traffic safety on U.S. Highway 285. “An alarming spike has occurred in the number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities on the 20-mile stretch of highway from Loving to the New Mexico-Texas state line,” says Brown. “There is a constant flow of passenger vehicles mixed with high volumes of heavy trucks. We need passing lanes, turn lanes, shoulders, and pull-outs. This road is scary to drive.”
While the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) is in the process of designing improvements and identifying a funding source, Brown is strongly urging the department to find a way to accelerate the project. She is also pushing for a safety corridor designation, with doubling of fines and increased ticketing. Brown is also pushing for other safety measures that would provide immediate relief. She has urged the NMDOT to move the now idle port-of-entry station from its location near the Carlsbad Airport to an area closer to the Texas state line. The station could then be used by the NMDOT to perform inspections and remove unsafe trucks from the roads.
Throughout her tenure, Brown has staunchly advocated for more funding to improve county and municipal arterial roads, as well.
Improving quality and access to behavioral health has been another major concern worked on by Brown. She is involved in reprising the former Crossroads treatment center, which was very successful in providing long-term rehabilitation services for women suffering from addictions. The facility was closed due to serious deficiencies with the building. While the new facility will remain at the same location, it is benefitting from remodeling to bring the building up to code and will be called Avalon Ranch.
“Using legislative capital outlay dollars, the City of Carlsbad is improving the property, and we hope to have Avalon Ranch operational in June of this year.” Brown says that one of the reasons the program was so successful in the past was that women could have their children living with them during treatment. “Anytime we can keep families together, that is a plus,” says Brown.
Brown has been a long-time advocate for education. In 2017, Brown established an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Eddy County to inspire preschool children to develop a love for books and reading. Every month, a free, high-quality, age-appropriate children’s book is mailed to the home of every child enrolled in the program.
“There is never a charge to the child’s family. We have generous donors who contribute to making this reading readiness initiative available. Having excellent books in the home strengthens the bonds between parents and children, as the children insist on being read to time and time again. A familiarity with books helps youngsters climb the steps to kindergarten,” says Brown. Nearly 500 preschoolers in Eddy County are already participating in the program.
Brown serves on the Judiciary and House Taxation and Revenue committees and on several interim committees. She has been chairman of two legislative committees, including being the first woman legislator to head the House Transportation and Public Works Committee.
Consistently ranked by Rio Grande Foundation as one of New Mexico’s foremost supporters of principles of economic freedom, Brown has been recognized as a Woman Legislative Business Champion.
Francis announces intent to run for probate judge
ARTESIA — Jay Francis has announced he is running as a Republican to be Eddy County’s next probate judge.
Francis was born in Artesia and has lived in Eddy County his entire life, except while attending college and law school. He graduated from Artesia High School in 1980 and earned his Bachelor of Accounting degree from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces in 1984. He then graduated from Texas Tech Law School, earning his Juris Doctorate in 1987.
Francis immediately returned to Eddy County to practice law with Tom Marek in Carlsbad. He soon became a partner with the firm, practicing law with Marek until Marek’s death in 2009. He then joined the firm of Caraway, Tabor & Byers in 2010 and has been in active practice with them since.
During those 30 years, Francis has conducted a general practice, handling cases ranging from contracts, to domestic relations, to litigating major cases. He has filed nearly 500 probate cases in both district court and Eddy County Probate Court. He says he cannot count the number of wills and other estate-planning documents he has prepared. Because of the breadth of his experience, Francis believes he is best-suited candidate for the job, because probates and estates require much more than knowing the probate code. Probates require an understanding of all facets of the law.
Francis has been active with the Carlsbad Heights Lions Club for more than 30 years and has been named a Melvin Jones Fellow, the organization’s highest award nationwide. Some of his other services to the community include the Campfire Girls of Carlsbad, Crime Stoppers of Eddy County, the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad, and being a recipient of an Unsung Hero Award from the Carlsbad Current-Argus. He is a longtime member of First United Methodist Church and has family still residing in Artesia, as well as Albuquerque and Hobbs. Francis’ wife, Tracy, is an executive vice president of the Carlsbad National Bank.
John Caraway has served as the county’s probate judge for the last eight years but is unable to run for reelection due to term limits. Francis believes he can continue Caraway’s outstanding work and that the citizens of Eddy County will continue to have a knowledgeable and well-experienced probate judge if he is elected.
Sanders announces bid for PRC District 2
ARTESIA — Eastern New Mexico native Kevin Sanders is pleased to announce his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for the Public Regulation Commission seat in New Mexico’s vast and diverse District 2.
In addition to personal familiarity with the issues vital to the area, Sanders has a background in law as a practicing attorney. He has experience in regulatory law, with prior work at the PRC and the Federal Communication Commission on his resume. Sanders currently serves on the board of directors for the Public Law section of the New Mexico State Bar Association.
His campaign will be focused on moving the district forward on renewable energy initiatives, ensuring every party has a place at the negotiating table and using the bully pulpit to support net neutrality.
“New Mexico should follow suit and ban blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization,” Sanders says. “It is time for states to step up and protect net neutrality. Join me in speaking out against policies that put profits over people.”
Smaller communities and local cooperatives are often bullied by larger organizations and utility monopolies while trying to advocate for the needs of their communities and clients, Sanders says. He is committed to ensuring everyone plays by the same set of rules, regardless of how much they can afford to lobby.
Sanders knows solar and wind are the smart investment going forward, and he is determined to keep Eastern New Mexico on the right energy path while, at a national level, federal agencies are rapidly abandoning proven green energy practices in favor of subsidizing fossil fuels, increasing offshore drilling, and relaxing mine and pipeline safety regulations.
The Kevin Sanders for PRC campaign is currently in the signature collection and initial public funding period, and Sanders says he is looking forward to receiving the nomination in June and turning the seat blue in November. For more information, visit his website, www.kevinsandersforprc.com.