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

Q&A's: Roosevelt County Commission, District 2


May 17, 2020

PORTALES — There are two candidates in the June 2 Republican primary for the District 2 slot on the Roosevelt County Commission.

The winner faces no opposition in the November general election. Matthew Hunton, the incumbent, is running against Rodney Savage.

The position pays $22,832 annually.

Matthew Hunton

Occupation: Insurance agent/business owner

Prior or current elected offices held: Portales City Council, 2012-16. Curry County Commission, 2017-present.

What experience do you have that will prepare you for the upcoming four years?

Being a city councilor for four years greatly decreased my learning curve as a commissioner. Being a commissioner for the last three-plus years leaves no learning curve to continue in my current position. I am comfortable with the way the system works and will be able to continue helping move Roosevelt County forward in a responsible way. I appreciate hearing from citizens and know the process to work with them to address their issues. My fellow commissioners voted me chair of the commission this year and that has brought on additional insights to the position.

What do you believe should be the role of government, and do you believe anything changes during a pandemic?

County government's only role should be maintaining fiscal responsibility to allow for the essential services our citizens need such as safety and infrastructure improvements. We have many state mandated expenses that must be taken in to consideration which makes our job difficult from time to time. Should a pandemic arise I believe the county government's role should include discussion and creation of a plan with state officials to move our local area forward.

Commissioners are most visible during twice-monthly public meetings, but most of the legwork happens outside of those meetings. What kind of time commitments can you make to the position outside of meetings, and what do you plan to do during those hours?

Through my seven years of public service I have not had any issues committing the time and have been able to give it my all. I balance life, work, and commission very well. This includes trips to Santa Fe during legislative sessions to bring back capital outlay money, as well as additional meetings that come up such as community development block grant, budget and fleet workshops, commission meetings, and others. In addition, I'm always available to the citizens I represent be it to drive a road that might be deteriorating or discuss county business.

As difficult as it is to imagine Jan. 1 right now, what do you envision to be the biggest challenge of the office you’re seeking? How do you plan to address it?

The biggest challenge without a doubt will be budget. I will use my business background and knowledge of government to responsibly move forward to have a balanced budget without giving up essential services that our citizens need.

Regardless of the primary outcome, you will be in your current position for the next six months. Should you win, what do you plan to do over the next six months to ensure your next term is successful? Should you be defeated in the primary, what would you do in those six months to ensure taxpayers are best served?

Due to the current circumstances, win or lose, our next six months will be about creating and monitoring the budget. We expect to have a tremendous downward trend in revenues for the next 18 to 24 months. I will continue to work hard to make sure our county government stays solvent.

Rodney Savage

Occupation: Retired agriculture educator and FFA advisor. I taught 26 years of grades 7-12 at Portales High School and 12 years at Elida High School. I am currently a self-employed rental property owner.

Prior or current elected offices held: After retirement I was elected to the Portales Municipal School where I have served for 18 years and continue to serve. During this time I have held various offices including Serving two terms as president. I also served eight years on the New Mexico FFA Board of Governors.

What experience do you have that will prepare you for the upcoming four years?

As a Portales School Board member for 18 years and serving on the budget and audit committees I have gained valuable experience in budget and audit approval while contributing to a team effort. I have received over 100 hours training at the New Mexico School Board Association conferences relating to issues such as superintendent search, budget and finance, strategic planning, and legislative advocacy. I have had the opportunity to interact with legislators annually at state and Region Six board meetings advocating and lobbying legislators for local control.

What do you believe should be the role of government, and do you believe anything changes during a pandemic?

I believe the role of government should be that of a facilitator or catalyst to make things easier and more efficient for those whom we are elected to serve. To me government boils down to serving the people and protecting our constitutional rights. And no, that role does not change during a pandemic. Leadership is not about me, it is about them.

Commissioners are most visible during twice monthly meetings, but most of the leg work happens outside those meetings. What kind of time commitments can you make to the position outside of meetings and what do you plan to do during these hours?

Being retired from teaching and self-employed offers the advantage of being highly approachable and available to work at all times. I plan to travel throughout my district to meet people, listen to their issues and gain first-hand knowledge of road conditions and infrastructure.

As difficult as it is to imagine January 1 right now, what do you envision the biggest challenge of the office you are seeking? How do you plan to address it?

We must get our economy back as soon as possible. I believe whether it be as individual citizens or an organized/elected body such as the county commission, we must avail every opportunity to push back against unconstitutional mandates that are stifling our community. And yes, we must all act in a safe manner and use common sense.

With oil and gas revenues plummeting and decreased taxable income from the agriculture and business sectors it will be a challenge to prepare a balanced budget without cutting personnel and putting even more people out of work.

For this position, the Republican primary is the only contested one and there are no nominees signed up for the Democratic or Libertarian primary races. Should you win the primary, what will you do over the six months to ensure a smooth transition?

I plan to read the meeting agendas and minutes posted on the Roosevelt County Commission website and attend all commission meetings as well. I also plan to begin calling on residents in my district to learn of their issues and concerns ... this will remain my highest priority. I also believe it is important to familiarize myself with neighboring counties and their issues and perhaps how they have solved them. I will attend any training sessions provided by the New Mexico Association of Counties. I will continue to serve my county by attending Fair Board meetings and serve as goat show superintendent. I also see an opportunity to improve the working relationship between the Commission and other entities such as local law enforcement, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cattle Growers, Farm Bureau, RCEC, the Fair Board, the City Council, and Chamber of Commerce.


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