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Candidates speak to Republican Women

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From left, Gary Clingman, New Mexico State Supreme Court Justice; Arthur Castillo, candidate for New Mexico State Treasurer; E.J. Fouratt, Chaves County Magistrate Court Division 2 judge; and Dara Dana, candidate for Chaves County Commissioner District 1, prepare to address the Chaves County Federated Republican Women Wednesday at the Elks Lodge. (Alex Ross Photo)

Four candidates for state and local office touched on their backgrounds and what they will do if elected during the monthly meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women.

The four speakers made their pitches to an audience at the Elks Lodge, 69 days before the November election.

Though races for governor, U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will be decided in the upcoming elections, a host of judicial, statewide, state legislative and countywide candidates will also be on the ballot.

Dara Dana, a former two-term state representative, will be on the ballot as the Republican candidate for the District 1 seat on the Chaves County Commission. Dana will go up against Democrat Micheal Trujillo in November for the District 1 seat now held by James Duffy. Duffy is unable to run for a third term due to term limits.

Dana is no stranger to politics. She was elected to represent District 58 in the State House of Representatives in 1996, re-elected in 1998 and defeated in 2000.

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Dana said it has been interesting to get back on the campaign trail after an 18-year absence.

“And it has been fun to see what is out there and who is out there and talk to them again and say, ‘May I have your vote? I am Dara Dana,’” she said.

Dana added that she looks forward to working with the other four commissioners if elected, lauding them for their management of the county budget and county roads.

She said that based on her experience as a state lawmaker, she knows that sometimes elected officials have to “say no” to new spending or spending increases.

“There is no money tree, so we have to work within our budget, with the dollars we have.” Dara said.

Arthur Castillo, a Republican candidate for New Mexico State Treasurer, also spoke at the meeting. Castillo is running against incumbent Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, a Democrat. Castillo is a retired chief financial officer and previously worked for the New Mexico State Treasurer’s office.

Castillo said that while his resume shows he has worked extensively within government, he is not a “career politician,” the type of people that he said have managed the state treasurer’s office for too long. He said the office needs a fresh face and a new approach.

“That is why I am running,” he said.

Castillo said back when he worked in the treasurer’s office, it was audited. He added that if elected, the first thing he will do is request an audit of the office so he can find out how to improve it.

“I don’t plan on reinventing the wheel,” he said. “If something is working, I am going to leave it there, but if something is broken, I want to fix it.”

Two judges — one on the Chaves County Magistrate Court and the other on the New Mexico Supreme Court — also spoke.

Chaves County Magistrate Court Division II Judge E.J. Fouratt is running to retain his seat this fall, fending off a challenge from Libertarian Mayna Erika Myers.

A fifth generation former law enforcement officer, Fouratt said that he never imagined running to be a judge, but was persuaded to do so by many people when a seat on the Magistrate court became vacant. He then got on his motorcycle and delivered his application of candidacy to Santa Fe shortly before the filing deadline.

“I put a lot of thought into it, talked with a lot of people to make sure I was a good fit for this,” Fouratt said.

He said that one of his biggest accomplishments was when he and Magistrate Court Division I Judge K.C. Rogers established a no contact order as a means to prevent witness intimidation and tampering in criminal cases.

“With my years of experience and his years of experience, we could tell there was a lot of witness intimidation and witness tampering going on,” he said.

The no contact order has since been approved at the state level and is used in almost any criminal case that involves a victim, he said.

Despite years in law enforcement, Fouratt said he does not believe incarceration is always the answer to crime.

“Do I believe everybody belongs in jail? Absolutely not,” he said.

New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Gary Clingman also spoke to the group. He was appointed to the New Mexico State Supreme Court earlier this year.

Clingman said he has been asked what he contributes to the court and he said he brings geographic diversity. He said he is the first justice in about 25 years who is not a product of the Albuquerque or Santa Fe political process.

He added that there will be two additional vacancies on the court in December when two justices plan on retiring. Whoever wins November’s governor’s race will fill those two seats on the high court, Clingman said.

“I think that tells you the importance of the governor’s race.” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.