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Chaves County Democrats elect new chair

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Stephanie Thomas stands before a crowd Saturday at the convention of the Democratic Party of Chaves County in the Chaves Room at the Holiday Inn in Roswell. (Alex Ross Photo)

Chaves County Democrats elected Stephanie Thomas as their new chair Saturday at the party’s biennial county convention.

“I’m honored, I’m excited and a little bit impatient to start to get to work with all of you, so lets do that,” Thomas told the crowd of Democrats at the convention in the Chaves Room of the Holiday Inn in Roswell.

Thomas was the only name put up for nomination. She was elected unanimously to a two-year term leading the local Democratic Party.

Paul Romero — chair since 2017 — opted not to run again. He told the crowd that serving as chair was “the honor of a lifetime.”

Thomas, 32, said she decided to run for chair after hearing that Romero would not seek another term.

“And I just thought if not me, then who?” she asked.

Thomas, a Navy veteran, briefly worked at the Roswell Public Library in 2012 before moving to Hobbs in 2013. She served as treasurer and secretary of the Democratic Party of Lea County. She moved back to Roswell last year.

The 2016 presidential election motivated Thomas to get involved in party politics.

“That was the turning point for me,” she said.

Thomas said she wants to continue to build on the work and energy of local party activists.

Although Democrats won all statewide and congressional races and expanded their majorities in the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2018, the party only fielded a candidate in one county race in Chaves County.

Former County Commissioner Michael Trujillo ran for the District 1 seat he had held from 2003 until 2011, but lost to Republican and former state Rep. Dara Dana by 32 votes. Democrats did not field a candidate in any local judicial or legislative races.

Thomas said she hopes to recruit more local candidates by pairing up people interested in running with organizations that can provide them with training and resources they need to compete, and actively encourage people thinking about running for office to do so.

She said that she urges anyone who has ever considered running for office to do it.

Democrats at the convention also nominated and unanimously re-elected Vice Chair Daniel Johnson to another term.

Don Patton, Sonya Rafferty and Bob Carroll were all elected to the three seats held by Chaves County on the Democratic Party of New Mexico Central Committee.

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