Lawmaker feels she has enough left for re-election
David Arkin: CNJ correspondent
One of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers believes she still has a little more in the tank.
For Earlene Roberts, it’s just not time to call it quits.
The Lovington Republican has decided to run again for a seat in the House because she says she’s not completely comfortable with the current Democratic leadership in Santa Fe.
She will be seeking for the ninth time the House District 66 seat, which spans a huge area of eastern New Mexico. Roberts will face Keith Gardner in the June primary for the Republican spot in the November general election.
“I just don’t feel that it’s time for me to leave,” she said. “Our current governor and Legislature are predominantly liberal and I feel we need the experience of someone who knows the players and the issues and who will stand up and take a hard stance on those issues.”
Roberts believes her success in Santa Fe is about more than just knowing who the important people are. She said her ability to work with the other side of the aisle and the fact that she questions spending practices has been key to her longevity.
“I have earned the Democrats respect,” she said. “I don’t always agree, but we certainly have to work with them. I think we have to voice our objections to overspending. It looks like in the future we will be looking at a spending decrease. We’ve never seen a spending decrease. Either we are going to have to get a handle on the budget or we will have to have a tax increase.”
If elected this year, Roberts said she will also keep a close eye water issues.
Planning ahead is key to the state having enough water in the years to come, Roberts said.
“Because we are growing we are noticing that we have less water to go around and we must plan ahead,” she said. “We need to start getting people to start to think about conserving water.”
Salt cedar eradication and cloud seeding are ideas that Roberts believes could help conserve water.
“We are trying to get some of the salt cedar eradicated on the Pecos and that will help us some,” she said. “Also cloud seeding, I’m involved with that.”
Roberts said cleaning up water could be crucial in the coming years for New Mexico.
“We need to look at cleaning up some of our water,” she said. “If we can pump it out of the ground and eject it back into the ground and have it cleaned up we could see a lot of opportunities and we must pursue that.”
In addition to water, Roberts, like many area lawmakers, wants more of an economic development boom for her district.
“I would like to see rural America grow,” she said. “I would love to be able to get our economy boosted in rural New Mexico. We will have to find more water to make rural New Mexico grow though.”
Those who know Roberts well speak highly of her decision-making, and say she wants to make the communities she represents better.
“She will do whatever needs to be done to get the job done,” said Mack McCarthick, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lovington, the church that Roberts attends. “She is certainly not afraid of hard work. She is a person who loves her country and community and who wants to make a difference and do what’s right.”
• • •
Still going ...
Who: Earlene Roberts
Political service: 16 years as a House member
Business: Real estate broker
Involvement: Member of National Foundation of Women Legislators, National Conference of State Legislators, National Energy Council, Lea County Republican Women and past 4-H leader.
Honors: Lee County Citizen of the Year, Associates of Commerce and Industry business winner.