Tabitha Denny has announced she is running to stay on the Roswell City Council for another term. Denny is the councilor of Ward 5 but says that she is the voice of all of Roswell.
A New Mexico native of Tucumcari, Denny grew up in Roswell and said she never thought she would return. She graduated from Goddard High School in 1990 and decided to return in 2012.
“If I am going to be here, I might as well make a change,” said Denny, who announced her re-election campaign Friday. “We can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done it. It’s about compromise and not giving up your values and ethics. If we stand too much in thinking we are always right, or wrong, we won’t change.”
Hoping for a second term
Denny said the biggest accomplishment of the current council is the groundbreaking of the recreation center, but she feels that there is so much more to do for the city. She said the issues of the homeless, panhandling, and children and the families of Roswell are some topics that need more work, which she said has been her mission since running for public office in 2012.
This will be her second campaign for public office. Denny is the chair of the City Council’s General Services Committee. She also serves on the Finance Committee and the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission.
Denny said she would be interested in joining the Public Safety Committee if elected for another 4-year term.
“It is to make a change and not just talk about it,” Denny said. “I’ve said this in the last four years, I hate politics, and technically I know I am a politician, but I don’t feel like one. But I also believe if you want to make a change, you have to do something. I have learned a lot the last four years going through it. People don’t understand everything about politics or even money for the council. You come in with an idea thinking that you can make all of these changes. You realize once you are in here that you can’t just do that. You can be a voice, but making decisions is on everyone else.”
When asked why she would like a second term, Denny said she wants to serve all of Roswell.
“I tried in the first go-around to not make promises I can’t keep,” she said.
“Ultimately, I care. I’ve never had a personal agenda, and I know many have. I never did and I still don’t have an agenda. It’s about Roswell and what is right for the majority, not just a select few.”
On her political affiliation, Denny said she is as open as a person can get, but emphasized that the City Council is supposed to be nonpartisan. Denny said respect and honesty guide her with the processes of the City Council and in working with her fellow councilors.
“You have nine other people. It’s not as easy. And then you have eleven personalities,” Denny said.
On her current ward, Denny said she loves the diversity of Ward 5 and recognizes her constituents for their hard work. Ward 5 is principally south of McGaffey Street, and extends south to include the Roswell International Air Center.
For future council projects, Denny would like to get the youth more involved in city government. She said she could see creating a youth City Council.
A voice of change
With her background in IT, Denny acknowledges the value of sharing voices through social media. Three years ago, Denny created a Facebook page called Questions, Discussions, and Ideas for Creating a Better Roswell to be able to listen to the community better. There are 1,806 members in the group currently.
As a councilor, Denny says she focuses on respecting others and always does research before voting and making decisions. Denny said she cares for the employees of the city and tries to be a voice for them.
“One of the things that drives me nuts, and it has been like this since I was young,” said Denny, “it has always been the north side, south side, east side, west side, and everybody says it’s the base. And to me, there is good and bad all over this town.
“Pinpointing that it is one area or another just divides us.”
Children and families
When not occupied with City Council business, Denny said she works full-time as the executive at the Pecos Valley Teen Court and will be receiving her master’s degree in social work next semester after finishing 15 hours at New Mexico Highlands University. In June, Denny will receive her license for social work. Denny’s bachelor degree is in IT, but she said she has always wanted to work with children.
Denny said her heart is with the children and the families of Roswell, which she said has been her mission since running for public office in 2012.
“This involves the families,” she said. “I hear a lot working with juvenile delinquents, and we have a hard time having the families work with the kids. I think that is where the key is doing family programs in helping parents to work with the kids, and to create that bond early on. They need ways to bond and be family as much as possible.”
Denny said she is very involved in her own family and wants to leave something behind for them.
On her own time, Denny wants to create a volunteer-led program to help the elderly, especially those raising their grand and great-grandchildren. This year, she has been decorating houses for the Christmas season and would like to extend the services to seasonal needs like yard work.
“I would like to see the city working with the Roswell Homeless Coalition, and get the community to come together,” she said.
Denny is working with the homeless coalition to provide appropriate mattresses. She said as of now, $1,100 has been raised, and God will provide the last $2,700.
“It’s the little stuff to do that makes Roswell great, and why I love being here,” she said. “That’s an example of how the community can come together.”
Denny said that she still believes in keeping money in Roswell by supporting local businesses and improving customer service. For her own small business, Denny sold Crossfit Vision in June 2015, but still owns The Scuba Shop in honor of her late father, Gale Yocom.
“I would like to win again. That’s where my heart is at,” she said. “God has a plan. My plans don’t matter because when I start thinking something, he throws me for a loop.”
City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.