The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Muleshoe residents to vote for new senator


MULESHOE — Texas voters living in Senate District 31 — a 26-county area that includes Bailey and Parmer counties — will vote in a special election on Jan. 20 to determine which of seven candidates will replace resigning Republican Sen. Teel Bivin.

President Bush recently appointed Bivin ambassador to Sweden.

Vying for the remainder of Bivin’s term are restauranteur Bob Barnes, R-Odessa; businessman Kirk Edwards, R-Odessa; farmer Lee Gibson, R-Dumas; education consultant Elaine King Miller, D-Amarillo; attorney/restauranteur Jesse Quackenbush, R-Amarillo; businessman Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo; and oilman Don Sparks, R-Midland.

“I expect a very low turnout in the Jan. 20 election,” said Bailey County Clerk Sherri Harrison of Muleshoe. “We’ve only had three voters so far.”

There are 3,982 registered voters in Bailey County, which has a population of 6,594, she said.

Harrison said she expects most of the voters in her area will turn out for the primary election instead, because, “There is so much opposition,” she said.

Colleen Stover, Parmer County Clerk in Farwell, said she expects low voter turnout for the senate seat.

“We have had only five personal voters so far,” Stover said. “The little bit of comment I’ve heard is that people don’t know enough about each candidate’s agenda.”

There are, however, several issues being addressed by the seven senatorial candidates including how to finance public schools, water sales and capture rights, electing judges, separation of church and state, the growing Hispanic population and the Panhandle’s economic viability.

The candidates addressed how they felt education should be financed last week at a League of Women Voters forum in Amarillo.

During the forum Edwards said he has been visiting with senior House and Senate leaders working on school finance and the system will be supported by a reduced property tax, a cigarette tax and a sales tax.

Seliger said that he wants to ensure money that comes from taxes goes to the schools.

Barnes said Texans are taxed enough and alternative methods should support Texas schools.

Miller said voters in District 31 should have a say about education finance.

Quackenbush proposed a bottle bill to fund public education in which customers would pay a 5-cent deposit on recyclable containers and receive 4 cents when they are returned, allowing 1 cent to fund education.

Gibson said he does not approve of raising taxes to finance education and Sparks has said all issues to pay for education should be examined.


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