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


The Staff of The News 

Judge requirements few, responsibility large

Interviewing first round ends Tuesday.

 

June 3, 2018



If you saw it as a “help wanted” ad, you might skip it assuming there’s some kind of catch.

“Experience preferred but not required, high school diploma or equivalent needed. Salary $90,000 per year. Apply at county clerk’s office. Registered voters only.”

But you guessed it: There are a few catches for the magistrate judge position and its $89,907 salary. You dole out sentences which can change the direction of a person’s life. You may throw out a traffic ticket in the morning, then decide in the afternoon if an open count of murder heads to district court. And even though you don’t need experience as a lawyer or a law degree, you do need to know the law — because you don’t have much margin for error.

And there’s the interview process. You have to convince a few thousand of your fellow citizens you’re the best person for the job.

The first round of interviews ends Tuesday, with the New Mexico primary elections scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

So far, 1,913 people have already made their voices heard, according to Roosevelt and Curry county clerks.

In Roosevelt County, 634 people have voted early in the Republican primary, where four are running for the judge’s position — James Sandoval, Christopher Mitchell, Jimmy Parrish or Michelle Bargas. The winner faces no general election opposition. There are 9,932 registered voters in Roosevelt County.

In Curry County, 1,279 people have already voted early out of 17,413 eligible registered voters.

• In Division 1, there will be a general election contest between two of four candidates — Terry Martin and Nicole Roybal are running for the Democratic nomination, while Janemarie VanderDussen and Keith Farkas seek the Republican nomination.

• The winner of the Division 2 Republican primary between Shaun Burns, Stephen Whittington, Sean Martinez and Donald Sawyer faces no general election opposition.

None of the three magistrate judge incumbents — Linda Short in Roosevelt County, Duane Castleberry in Curry Division 1 or Richard Hollis in Curry Division 2 — are running for another term.

Castleberry, in his 12th year as a magistrate judge, has found the position to be rewarding in its opportunity to serve and its front-row seat at how state government runs.

The biggest drawbacks, he said, are the “repeat offenders, and sons and daughters of former criminal defendants. You’re just seeing people not getting any leadership from their parents and guardian.”

The training for the job starts immediately, and the learning never ends. But, Castleberry said, if you uphold the law you should do good work.

“I think (my advice would be) just to be ethical, don’t do favors and be an example that the same rules apply to all of us,” Castleberry said. “Judges don’t represent people or causes, just the law and the rules that govern them, as well.”

Here are some other contested primary races of local and state interest:

• In Roosevelt County, Sheriff Malin Parker is running for a second term with Darrell Chenault opposing him in the Republican primary. The winner faces no general election opposition.

• Tina Dixon and Gene Creighton are running in the Republican primary for the Roosevelt County Commission District 4 position. The winner faces no general election opposition.

• Dillon Lewis is running against Seth Martin in the Republican primary for District 4 of the Curry County Commission. Martin is running for the remaining two years of the term, after his appointment to replace Ben Smith. The winner faces no general election opposition.

• Four people are running for governor, with Susana Martinez term-limited. U.S. Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce are both running. Grisham faces Jeff Apodaca and Joseph Cervantes for the Democratic nomination, and Pearce is unopposed in the Republican primary.

• With Lujan Grisham and Pearce running for governor, their representative seats are both up, but Lujan Grisham’s representation doesn’t cover Curry or Roosevelt counties and Pearce’s representation covers a southern portion of Roosevelt County. Xochitl Torres Small and L. Madeline Hildebrandt are running in the Democratic primary; Yvette Herrell, Monty Newman, Gavin Clarkson and Clayburn Griffin are running in the Republican primary.

• Michael Garcia Holmes is running unopposed for lieutenant governor in the Republican primary. The Democratic primary features Howie Morales, Rick Miera and Billy Garrett.

• Wayne Johnson, running unopposed in the Republican primary, is the current state auditor. He was appointed after Tim Keller resigned to become the mayor of Albuquerque. Bill McCamley and Brian Colon are running in the Democratic primary.

• Former land commissioner Pat Lyons is running unopposed in the Republican primary for his old position, vacant with Aubrey Dunn running for the Senate. Stephanie Richard, Garrett Veneklasen and George Munoz are running on the Democratic side.

• Jerry Partin of Portales is running against Jeff Byrd of Tucumcari for District 2 of the Public Regulation Commission in the Republican primary. The winner faces no general election opposition.

 
 

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