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Chaves County officials sworn in

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Mike Herrington stands alongside his wife Christy Herrington shortly before being sworn in as Chaves County Sheriff by Judge Kea. W. Riggs of the Fifth Judicial District Court at a large ceremony outside the Chaves County Administrative Center Monday afternoon. Charles Yslas was sworn in as Chief Deputy. Herrington, as sheriff, also swore in Chaves County deputies and officers of the Hagerman and Dexter Police Departments. (Alex Ross Photo)

Candidates who won local races in Chaves County in November officially began their terms Monday after being sworn in during two ceremonies at the County Administrative Center.

Dara Dana is sworn in as the newest member of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners by Judge Joel Carson of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, as Dana’s husband Richard and daughter Stephanie Eldridge stand by her Monday at the County Administrative Center. Dana, a Republican, won by 32 votes in November against Democrat Michael Trujillo in the race for the District 1 Commission seat previously held by James Duffey. Duffey was ineligible to run for another term due to term limits. (Alex Ross Photo)

“We take off our campaign hats and put on our governing hats,” Robert Corn, chair of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, said to a small audience at a morning swearing-in.

Newly-elected District 1 Commissioner Dara Dana, District 5 Commissioner Will Cavin and Assessor Mark Willard were sworn in at a morning ceremony, where Roswell resident Judge Joel Carson of the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals administered the oath.

Carson, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 to fill a vacancy on the court, told the crowd that he has been longtime friends with the people who were being sworn in and described them as people of great integrity.

Before she was sworn in, Dana said she is excited to start her new job.

Dana, a Republican, prevailed over Democrat and former county commissioner Michael Trujillo by 32 votes in November for the seat long held by Commissioner James Duffey. Duffey was ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits.

Dana is currently the only female commissioner in Chaves County.

A former member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1997 to 2001, Dana said she will spend the next few months learning more about county government and her new position.

“It’s a little different from being in the state house, a little more down to the people,” she said.

Though many people cannot make the long trek up to Santa Fe during a legislative session, any member of the public can come to a meeting of the county commissioners, ask questions and take part in the process, she added.

Willard was sworn in for another term as county assessor, and expressed gratitude to the people of Chaves County for the chance to serve them. Willard fended off a Republican primary challenge from county appraiser Daniel Pruitt in June, but was unopposed in the general election.

He told the crowd he has worked for the county for 30 years. Willard’s career included two terms as county assessor from 1998 to 2007, and then eight years as county appraiser.

“It’s been a great ride, so thank you,” he said.

With his wife Kimberly, father Hutch and sister Candy McClelland, Cavin was sworn in for a second term representing District 5 on the Commission. Cavin, a Republican, was unopposed in both the primary and general elections.

Cavin, after taking the oath, called Chaves County “the most amazing county in this country” and has enjoyed working with other commissioners and county officials in the last four years.

“We all work together, we work well, and I am looking forward to working hard in the next four years because we have a lot more work to take care of and to take care of our county,” he continued.

Mike Herrington was sworn in as the new county sheriff and Charles Yslas as the chief deputy at a 3 p.m. ceremony outside the Administrative Center before throngs of spectators.

Judge Kea W. Riggs of the Fifth Judicial District administered the oath to Herrington. Herrington in turn administered the oath to Yslas, as well as county deputies and officers with the Dexter and Hagerman police departments.

The afternoon event featured a free dinner and a musical performance by Heather Smith, a Christian country singer. Pastor Troy Smothermon of Church on the Move led the crowd in prayer and was master of ceremonies.

After he took the oath, Herrington said that he wanted to thank God for putting him on the path he is now on in life, as well as his family, who had to endure the campaign and transition process.

“We are now through with that, and now it’s on to making Chaves County a better place,” he said.

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