Home News Elections Fuller announces candidacy for Chaves County clerk

Fuller announces candidacy for Chaves County clerk

Cindy Fuller says she thinks her five years in the county clerk’s office has prepared her for the Chaves County Clerk position. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A longtime employee and elections officer with the Chaves County Clerk’s Office has announced her candidacy for Chaves County clerk.

Cindy Fuller, who joined the clerk’s office as elections bureau chief in 2014 and became chief deputy clerk in March, said she will run as a Republican for the office.

“I just feel that the last five years has prepared me for the challenge,” Fuller said. “I never thought that I would run for public office, but it’s the direction that I feel like God is leading me, and I just want to do the best job I can as county clerk for the people of Chaves County.”

Dave Kunko, the current clerk with decades of experience in county and city government, cannot run for another term at this time. He will serve the last year of his second term in 2020.

Fuller said that Kunko will serve as her campaign treasurer and added that she intends to launch a campaign site in January.

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She listed her priorities in office, should she be elected, as holding “efficient, fair, smooth elections;” ensuring that marriage licenses, real estate deeds and other public records are filed properly; assisting with the filing and processing of informal probates; and providing good customer service.

She said she also would work to improve voter turnout.

“This past (local) election we had about 9% turnout,” she said. “I would love to see a 75% turnout.”

The newly enacted election law that allows for same-day registration by Election Day 2021 could help in that effort, she said, although she thinks that the Secretary of State’s Office must create proper methods and procedures for verifying people’s information.

“We are 100% for people being able to register to vote,” she said. “We just want to make sure that there is a process in place to double-check that that person should be allowed to vote.”

She also plans to continue efforts to inform youth as a way to bring up voter numbers.

She said that, as elections bureau chief, she has educated students about the election process, including by bringing voting machines to some local schools for their student elections so that they could understand the voting process. She also encourages high school students to work at polling locations on election days.

“I feel like letting our young people know that ‘your vote is your voice’ is important. It does matter. It does count. We have had elections in Chaves County be determined by just a few votes. It is important — everything from school board members who are making policy that affects our children to soil and water districts that have taxing authority.”

She also thinks that the city of Roswell joining in local elections would help boost voter participation. At this time, the city has chosen to hold separate elections in March for open City Council and municipal judge positions.

“I think our turnout this last November would have been a lot better had the city of Roswell been a part of it, and the cost savings to them would have been tremendous,” she said.

The local election in November cost the county $27,000, which the state reimbursed, covering costs for the Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur municipalities and the college, school and taxing districts that participated. She estimates that a separate city election could cost about twice the amount.

“Elections are extremely expensive,” she said. “That is why I feel like consolidating them is a great idea because then you also consolidate that expense.”

Her experience with county elections began when she worked as a presiding judge at polling locations, something she did for about 15 years prior to joining the county and while working in the insurance industry.

Fuller also has a great deal of familiarity with the local area. She said she moved to Chaves County about 25 years ago. She grew up in Gallup and moved with her family to Carlsbad after high school, in about 1992, before relocating to Roswell for a job.

About 20 years ago, she married Tim Fuller, a Roswell Independent School District coach, the executive director of Chaves County Character Counts! and a firefighter with the Midway Volunteer Fire Department.

They live about four miles north of Dexter and have three children: Mikayla, a New Mexico State University student expected to graduate in May; Timothy, a University of New Mexico student; and Laci, a freshman at Roswell High School.

Besides her work with the county, Fuller is a praise and worship team member with Church on the Move and an active Republican Party member. She also said she spends a good deal of time attending Laci’s soccer and basketball games.

If elected clerk, she would oversee an office with a current annual budget of about $900,000 and nine employees, including the top elected official. At the current time, the clerk position pays $65,855 a year, and people elected to the office serve a four-year term.

Since becoming chief deputy clerk, Fuller said she has been able to expand beyond election matters to learn about the budget and other office operations.

While there has been some discussion about moving informal probates to state district courts, Fuller said she hopes that won’t happen. Informal probates are uncontested probates that can be recorded with the Clerk’s Office after review by a county probate judge. She described the low cost and convenience provided by the county as a “tremendous service” to county residents.

In 2020, new state legislation to increase marriage license fees probably will be discussed, she said, but she does not anticipate major election code changes in 2020 since the past couple of years have brought significant revisions.

A major issue affecting all county clerks is the security of their election systems, and Fuller said she feels confident about the county’s strength in that area. She was part of a team effort, which included integrated technology personnel, that underwent a U.S. Department of Homeland Security audit in 2019. The audit confirmed the voter and election systems had never been infiltrated. Nevertheless, the team persuaded the county to invest $105,000 to improve software, hardware and facilities used for voter registration and elections, work that has now been completed.

Fuller is the only person to announce their intention to run for the office so far. Primaries are scheduled for June 2. Election Day 2020 is Nov. 3.

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

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.