Editor's desk: NM elected female sheriff in 1966


Leroy and Doris McCarty were the law in Hidalgo County is 1967-68. (Courtesy photo)

link Leroy and Doris McCarty were the law in Hidalgo County in 1967-68. (2005 courtesy photo)


Mylessa Denny may be the first woman elected sheriff in New Mexico ... in the 21st century.

But a Hidalgo County woman was elected sheriff in 1966, and her daughter wants the world to remember.

Denny won the Democratic primary this week in De Baca County and, unless a minority party candidate emerges by June 24, she will face no opposition in November.

Jack Levick, executive director of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association, said his research had found Denny was about to be the state’s first elected female sheriff.

But when Silver City’s Mary McCarty heard the news, she began calling Levick and media outlets around the state to report that her mother was elected sheriff over two men almost 50 years ago.

Doris McCarty captured the job after her husband’s consecutive terms prevented him from running again.

She told voters she planned to handle office chores, radio dispatch work and bookkeeping and leave the rest to her husband as chief deputy.

Mary McCarty said her mother served two years before her dad, Leroy McCarty, was eligible to be elected again.

“I am extremely proud of her,” Mary McCarty said on Thursday.

She said her parents were the only sheriff’s officers at times, handling all of the county law-enforcement duties outside the city of Lordsburg.

In addition to her job as sheriff, Doris McCarty was a newspaper reporter, Chamber of Commerce director and twice elected probate judge, Mary McCarty said.

She died, at age 82, in 2005. Her obituary in The Lordsburg Liberal claimed she was the first and only woman elected sheriff in New Mexico.

“This fiery natural redhead was quite a pillar in Hidalgo County,” it read. “She contributed so much to the community and to all who knew her.”

The Editor’s Desk was compiled by Clovis News Journal Editor David Stevens. Contact him at: [email protected]


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