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Perry announces run for Ward 2

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Jason Perry announces at City Hall on Monday that he will be running for election to represent Ward 2 on the Roswell City Council. This marks the first contested city council race. Bonnie Bitzer announced her candidacy for the Ward 2 seat on Sept. 24. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Former councilor and current pastor, Jason Perry has jumped in the upcoming nonpartisan Roswell City Council race for Ward 2.

City Councilor Steve Henderson’s 20 years of service on the Roswell City Council will come to a close in March. Henderson endorsed his former colleague Jason Perry, and wrote in a statement that he can “pass the torch with confidence.” Councilor Judy Stubbs sits to the right of Henderson. (Alison Penn Photo)

At a press conference, Perry announced his bid to run on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall with around 27 people in attendance, including incumbent City Councilor Steve Henderson. Councilors Judy Stubbs, Caleb Grant and Mayor Dennis Kintigh were also present.

“My life has been defined by service,” Perry said. “I don’t do it to glorify myself. Everyone knows I am a Baptist preacher and all I am is a sinner that’s been saved by the grace of God. And I want my life to be used to make a difference in people’s lives and for that reason today, I announce my bid to be the next duly elected city councilor of Ward 2 of the city of Roswell — and so that is what we’ve called y’all here for today.”

From his last term, Perry, 44, listed his accomplishments as helping to write and pass an ordinance that “protects” the city from sexually oriented businesses, pursuing the “equal treatment from Santa Fe” to implement the “bed fee” that paid for the expansion and renovation of Roswell Convention & Civic Center, and for supporting city employees to conceal-carry to protect themselves.

Perry encourages potential voters to come get to know him by reaching out so they can learn about his “passion for conservative values here in southeast New Mexico and to ensure that the conservative values that we have are not infringed upon.”

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If elected in March, Perry said he will prioritize the city’s public safety, protecting and maintaining infrastructure and ensuring there is “strong accountability” for the use of taxpayer dollars in city finances. He currently serves on South Park Cemetery Board.

Henderson shared that he made a “difficult” decision to not run to keep his current seat on Ward 2. He said he wrote a letter stating his decision to the council on city stationery from the ‘70s and thanked them for their contributions to the city.

“I just want to congratulate Jason (Perry) for his willingness to step forward,” Henderson said. “And I think that my colleagues on the council — and certainly the residents of Ward 2 — will see the value of Jason and elect him as a council member, Ward 2. …”

As provided in a written statement, Henderson has served five four-year terms since 2004 and was elected to his first term on the council from 1974 to 1978. He wrote that he has served with “five city managers, seven mayors and over 100 council members” over the years.

A new library and Roswell Air Center terminal building, the start of the Wool Bowl Softball complex and “no smoking in public places” ordinance were some of the accomplishments Henderson listed while serving on the council.

Wearing a bowtie that was a gift from Henderson, Perry said Henderson was “gracious” in helping him understand his role as a councilor when he was appointed and provided encouragement in Perry becoming mayor pro-tem. Perry expressed gratitude for councilors, such as Henderson, who “paved the way” and helped Roswell in a significant way.”

When considering to run, Perry said he would not oppose Henderson, but when Henderson said he wouldn’t seek reelection, Perry continued to pray about the decision.

After living in Mexico, Perry and his family came to Roswell in 2008 where he worked at Tabernacle Baptist Church for 11 years. He has been married for over 23 years and has seven children. His oldest is a police officer on the Roswell Police Department.

In the community, Perry has served in leadership roles for the Noon Optimists and Roswell Rotary Club. He also shared his involvement with the Republican Party, voting delegate to the Republican National Convention, on the state central committee and as the previous chair of the Republican Party of Chaves County.

Former Gov. Susanna Martinez also appointed Perry to the Public Education Commission.

After running again, he was elected, serving over eight years.

As a councilor, Perry has represented Ward 4 since 2009 where he was appointed to cover another councilor’s remaining term. He ran in 2010 where he defeated Jonathan Rothschild and ran unopposed in 2014.

He served as mayor pro-tem three times and chaired the Airport and Legal committees, Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission.

In January 2018, Perry stepped down from his seat on Ward 4, predominantly southwest of Roswell, when he and his family moved to a larger home in Ward 2 northeast of Country Club Road. Councilors are required by ordinance to reside within the wards they represent.

Of his opponent, Perry said he called Bonnie Bitzer, who he described as an “outstanding citizen” and “contributor in our community,” before coming to the press conference to inform her of his decision. Saying he will not be running a negative campaign, Perry said he is “not running against Bonnie Bitzer — I’ll run a race for Jason Perry to be the next councilor.”

At New Hope Baptist Church in Artesia, Perry said the church — that he works at and helped start — grew from 32 people in February to 114 people last week. He will continue to live in Roswell and commute to Artesia, where he has the church’s support to serve if elected.

“But one of the things I told them when they asked me to come help them start a church there is — I made sure they understood I love the church, I love serving the Lord — but I also love my community in Roswell, New Mexico and I did not want to be forced to have to leave my community,” Perry said. “This is home for my children, home for my family and Roswell has been good to my family and we want to continue to be good and give back to Roswell. …”

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.