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

Opinion: Officials don't put personal views above city interest


October 10, 2018

It’s difficult to know how much the New Mexico Racing Commission will weigh public comments in deciding where it will place the state’s sixth racino.

If public comments are an essential part of its deliberations, you can bet the family farm Clovis won’t be hosting state-sanctioned horse races anytime soon.

For that, you may thank some of the city’s more prominent elected officials.

They can say they’re speaking as private citizens, not as public officials, but David Lansford is still Clovis’ mayor, Gary Elliott is still a city commissioner, Robert Thornton is still a Curry County commissioner, and Randal Crowder is still our state representative in Santa Fe.

When the mayor of a city says you’re not welcome, you might be inclined to take that as a sign that you’re not welcome. When other elected officials within the city drive home the point, you need to consider the very real possibility they can make your journey difficult should you decide to move in anyway.

But we’re here to tell members of the racing commission and horseracing community that while those people were elected to represent us, they didn’t. And they are not in charge of us.

Most of us want a racino in eastern New Mexico. We hope commissioners will give us a chance to prove it.

Yes, of course Lansford, Elliott, Thornton and Crowder are all entitled to their opinions that a gaming facility will bring social ills to town.

But most of us are deeply troubled by their words and actions.

1) They failed to represent the overwhelming majority of their constituents.

By all accounts, at least two-thirds of the 500 in attendance at Friday’s proceedings before the NMRC were supportive of a racetrack/casino.

Walter Bradley, a former lieutenant governor, said the RaciNO group had gathered 401 signatures opposing a racino — less than 2 percent of Clovis’ population.

2) We were alarmed to hear them express views that discourage free enterprise, growth and prosperity in the region.

The Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce held a high profile — as it should have — throughout the commissioners’ visit, assuring them our business community backs plans for economic growth. Why, yes, we would like to add hundreds of new jobs. Please and thank you.

Even if a majority of Clovis and eastern New Mexico had failed to show support, the actions of Lansford & Co. essentially slapped the concept of individual freedom and free enterprise smack in the face.

The private investors willing to spend millions of dollars are not seeking taxpayer money to supplement their ventures. The only reason they are seeking public approval is because the state limits the number of gaming licenses it will allow.

These investors are risking their own money, betting their livelihoods that eastern New Mexico will support their idea of entertainment. If they’re wrong, neither city officials nor taxpayers will be there to catch them and help them back on their financial feet.

By throwing their weight around publicly as they have — expressing viewpoints that don’t mirror the majority in the community, that discourage economic growth, that place their personal moral standards above others — we have to ask:

Do Lansford, Elliott, Thornton and Crowder want to represent Clovis? Or rule it?

We hope New Mexico’s racing commissioners are mostly interested in our potential for championing the sport of horse racing, evidence presented in impressive fashion by three groups in Friday’s presentations.

We hope they won’t let a few of our government leaders stand in the way of growing our community.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Editor David Stevens and Publisher Rob Langrell.


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