Local Democrats kicked off the election season Thursday night with the opening of their campaign office.
The party faithful dined on Mexican food, mingled and heard from two candidates in down ballot races in the two-room space in Suite A at 1701 SE Main Street. The space will function as the office for local Democrats through the November election.
The space was until recently the office of the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
Paul Romero, chair of the Democratic Party of Chaves County, said he and others in the party looked at a few locations, but said the space was the most efficient.
“We looked around and it seemed like one of the better deals,” Romero said.
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The same location was used as the campaign office by Democrats in the 2016 election cycle, he added.
The offices will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor and a host of other statewide, state legislative, judicial and county races will be decided in the coming election.
Romero said that people he would never think would vote Democrat have expressed a willingness to do so this year. Candidates this year have also been willing to come campaign in Chaves County, a Republican stronghold.
Romero told the audience that after the election in 2016, he lost hope, but they cannot undo the past.
“We move forward until November and then we write a new chapter in politics,” he said.
Michael Trujillo, a candidate in the District 1 race for the Chaves County Commission and Kevin Sanders, candidate for the District 2 seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, also spoke at the gathering.
Trujillo, a former two-term county County Commissioner, will go up against former state Representative Dara Dana, a Republican, in the fall for the seat now held by James Duffy. Duffy is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.
Trujillo said his background makes him a good fit for the seat.
“I am the candidate who has experience,” he said. “We need a Democrat up there and I’m going to be your voice.”
Trujillo added that going forward he wants to ensure the county sheriff’s office and fire departments have the best equipment. Fixing county roads and economic development are other issues that he said he hopes to work on if elected.
Trujillo said that he and volunteers have campaigned door-to-door in district one.
“We’ve been hitting about 100 houses in two hours,” he said.
Kevin Sanders, the Democrat in the race for the District 2 seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, said that while races for governor and U.S. Senate get all the attention, the contests further down the ballot, such as his, also have an impact on everyday New Mexicans.
“People need to focus more on these local races because it effects them and how much they pay on their utility bills,” he said.
Sanders, an attorney from Tucumcari, will face Republican Jefferson Byrd in November. The winner will represent District 2, which encompasses eastern New Mexico and is the largest of the commission’s four districts.
The district is now represented by Patrick Lyons, a Republican, who is unable to run for re-election because of term limits.
Sanders said no Democrat has ever represented District 2 on the commission so he has his work cut out for him. He added that the energy sector is at a crossroads, moving from oil to alternatives such as wind and solar.
He said New Mexico needs to look at what other states are doing in the field of renewable energy. He said there are also other tools, such as federal grants that the state can take advantage of.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.