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

Quay County lawmakers discuss challenges


June 9, 2019

Kevin Wilson

Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, spoke about shared challenges and opportuniites during Thursday's legislator forum at the Tucumcari Convention Center. Joining him were Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview; and Rep. Jack Chatfield, R-Mosquero.

TUCUMCARI - Be it a senator or a representative, Republican or Democrat, representatives of Quay County assured their constituents the challenges faced in Tucumcari were the same challenges in pretty much every city they represent.

The populations are dwindling and aging, but the population that remains needs upgraded infrastructure and adequately funded schools.

A key, Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, said at Thursday's legislator forum at the Tucumcari Convention Center, was for the communities of rural New Mexico to work together for shared success.

"We've always seen good things from promoting 'Tucumcari Tonite,'" Campos said. "They can go swimming in Santa Rosa, then spend the night (in Tucumcari)."

Campos, fellow Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, and Rep. Jack Chatfield, R-Mosquero, spoke to a lunchtime forum organized by the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation. The legislators spoke on some of the successes and failures in the 1,161 measures introduced during the 2019 Legislature and the passage of about 22 percent of them.

"Thank goodness we're not effective," Chatfield joked.

While there were things Chatfield said he liked about the first $7 billion budget in state history, he had concerns about the sustainability of some of the expenses. He specifically mentioned the state's film tax incentives.

"It looks like the film industry is really looking to put money in New Mexico," Chatfield said. "I want to see some of that in Tucumcari, Clovis, Mosquero, Roy. If they don't, we'll talk later. We're not just putting up the dollars for Santa Fe and Albuquerque."

Woods said one of the expected challenges going into 2019 was a new governor, and turnover in various state committees that comes with new administrations. He was clearly discussing the New Mexico Racing Commission, which was recently replaced by Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham.

What's next for the racing commission and the sixth license that both Tucumcari and Clovis are eyeing?

"Hell, I've got no idea," Woods said. "I'm in a heck of a position. I've got two cities in this fight. I'm best to keep my nose out of the middle, but I understand how important that can be to your town."

Patrick Vanderpool of the GTEDC commended legislators on four items - New Mexico Partnership funding, appropriations for the state LEDA fund, a common-sense approach to increasing the minimum wage and the highway jobs tax credit.

Carmen Runyan of the Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce asked how smaller towns could retain and attract youth. Chatfield said wind energy would be a key, and felt Mesalands Community College was in a prime position to train people for the field.

"We may not all have gas or oil on our property, but we all have wind blowing over the top of us," Chatfield said. "If young people are going to stay in our state, they have to have jobs."

Woods fielded a question about putting New Mexico in a position where hemp would be a viable cash crop, as Tucumcari has an ideal climate to raise the plant. Woods said the first step is establishing hemp processors in the state, which can then lead to businesses to take advantage of the processed crop.

Campos advised the audience to be involved in interim committee meetings, and to build connections with legislators in other districts because it pays dividends in future legislative sessions.

He gave the audience three focuses - government officials in neighboring communities working together, identifying infrastructure that can be fixed easily and what advances each community can realistically make.


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