Home News Local News Dexter elections focus primarily on schools

Dexter elections focus primarily on schools

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Dexter voters are deciding on school board members and a school bond issue as well as soil and water district representatives. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Dexter voters are being asked during the local elections of 2019 to choose among six candidates for three at-large positions on the public school district’s board and to decide whether to approve a $2.5 million general obligation bond for improvements of school facilities, grounds and equipment.

“We just want everyone to come out to vote,” said Superintendent Lesa Dodd. “Their vote counts, and it is important that we have people come out and vote in our election.”

No municipal government positions in Dexter are being decided in this election, but several soil and water conservation districts in Chaves County are holding elections, including one based in the Dexter-Hagerman area.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, with voting convenience centers at 11 locations in Chaves County, including at Dexter schools’ Central Office at 100 N. Lincoln Ave.

Early voting is occurring now until Nov. 2 at the Roswell Mall, 4501 N. Main St.; the Chaves County Administrative Center in Roswell, 1 St. Mary’s Place; and the Hagerman JOY Center, 503 E. Argyle.

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School board brings out new candidates

Three at-large positions on the five-member Dexter Consolidated Schools Board of Education are open. The terms are four years and begin Jan. 1.

The board provides governance over a district of about 890 students with a pre-K program and an elementary, middle school and high school.

Incumbent Michael Gomez, recently appointed by fellow members as board secretary, at least until new board members are seated, is running for re-election. He works for Eastern New Mexico University as the director of its GEAR UP program.

Two other members are not seeking additional terms. Former board member Amanda Bogle resigned this fall to return to teaching and is now a middle school teacher with the district, while current board vice president Bobby Vaughn, an oilfield industry manager, has decided not to run again.

Newly elected members will join Nancy Miles, a former district librarian who was elected in 2017, and Orlando Chavez, current board president, who has served on the board for about 14 years and was last re-elected in 2017.

In addition to Gomez, the candidates are Cynthia Amaya, Andrea McGarrah, Russell Sterling Neeld, Kristie Regalado and James Salas.

Amaya said that she has lived in Dexter for about eight years, having moved from Roswell. She is a pediatric registered nurse working on her graduate degree and has worked in a local pediatric practice for 18 years.

“Although I have never held a public office seat, I am interested in improving communication and strengthening the ties between school district stakeholders, community members, school officials and board members,” she said. “The aforementioned qualities help ensure that the children, being the heart of our community, have quality access to their educational needs; hence, promoting their current and long-term academic goals.”

Russell Neeld, an operations manager for H&H Rentals and Services in Artesia, is making his second run for office within the Dexter community. He made a bid for mayor in 2018, an election that incumbent Mitch Daubert won.

“I decided to run because I want to see changes in our school. I am an (alumnus) of Dexter Class of 2000, with my children following my legacy here in (the district),” he said. “After hearing from many in our community and my children that change was needed, I felt that it was my duty to be their voice.”

He also said that he wants to learn more about the community through board service and intends to run again for mayor the next time municipal government elections are held.

Salas, a 1986 Dexter High School graduate, said he has a strong interest in Dexter schools, as his child is a student in the district. He said some of the issues that concern him are teacher shortages, students leaving for other districts and the leadership of the district.

He retired from the Roswell Fire Department in 2011 as fire chief and now is chief officer with Dexter Fire and Rescue, an organization he has served as a volunteer since 1985.

“I have served on numerous boards and commissions within state government during my career in Roswell and continue to serve on several today,” he said. “I am very familiar with the state and local government process because of my affiliations and believe that this will serve me well if elected.”

Gomez, McGarrah and Regalado did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Bonds for school improvements

The school district is also asking voters to approve $2.5 million in new general obligation bonds, one of the primary ways that public schools raise money for facilities and equipment.

“We have always been very fortunate. Our community has always supported our bond elections. We have never had one that did not pass,” said Dodd.

The new bonds would not increase property taxes for Dexter residents, she said, because they would replace existing ones that are expiring.

Some of the future bond money would go to installing new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for Lewis Gym, the high school cafeteria and the middle school gym. During an October meeting, the board approved entering a contract for about $720,000 with Honeywell for the work, contingent on the passage of the 2019 bond issue to provide some of the money.

The district has identified many other projects as needs for the future. Among the priorities are remodeling and upgrading the middle school and elementary school, relocating the middle school library, improving athletic facilities, adding shade structures to the elementary playground, and upgrading technology, computer labs and interactive devices.

Soil and Water District

There are several soil and water conservation districts within Chaves County established by state law and designed to preserve and manage natural resources while protecting against floods, preserving wildlife and managing taxpayer resources.

Three people are running for supervisor positions for the Hagerman-Dexter Soil and Water Conservation District based in Hagerman. Stuart McKnight Bogle of Dexter is running for the Supervisor 1 position. Trevor E. Gray of Hagerman is the candidate for Supervisor 2, while Robert Edwin Jolley of Hagerman is up for the Supervisor 5 position.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.