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Gomez looks to organize political win

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Submitted Photo Marketing and events director Barbara Gomez says that running for local office has been a goal of hers for some time. She has announced her candidacy for Chaves County clerk.

Barbara Gomez enjoys new challenges, and she thinks the next one she’d like to take on is becoming Chaves County clerk.

A well-known community volunteer who has lived in Roswell with her husband, Jessie, for 42 years, Gomez is a marketing and events professional. She has her own event planning consulting firm, Plan-it Productions LLC, and a full-time job with Frontier Medical Services, which provides nursing, medical and therapy services in people’s homes.

Officially Frontier Medical’s marketing, community relations and events director since July 2009, Gomez recently was asked to oversee the firm’s compliance with COVID-19 rules and regulations.

She filed March 10 to run as a Republican for the county position against Cindy Fuller, the chief deputy clerk since March 2019 and an elections bureau chief from 2014 to 2019. No Democratic candidate filed for the seat.

“Running for office was something that has always been on my bucket list,” Gomez said. “I have thought of a number of local offices that I was interested in running for, including city council, and it was never the right time for it. There was always someone running for it that I thought should be city councilor, so I just kind of held back.”

Gomez said she certainly has nothing against Fuller, but that people began suggesting that she run for county clerk in fall 2019. She looked into what the position entailed, but wasn’t ready to throw her hat into the ring. She said she reconsidered earlier this year when other people began encouraging her to run.

“I think I could do well in this position. I think I’d like it, and I think it serves a great purpose in the community, so I thought, why not?” she said.

Gomez says she is “not a political insider” and that she would bring years of expertise as a community organizer and manager to the clerk position.

“I have always been a very organized community leader,” she said, “so what I bring with me is, I am trusted by our community. I also bring with me my leadership skills and my management skills and the fact that I have led a number of big events that I have also created.”

Those events include the Southeastern New Mexico Medical Conference, as well as other medical conferences; the Roswell Baby Boomer and Business Expo; the Artesia Business Expo; and the Heroes Banquet sponsored by the local nonprofit Homes for Heroes, which she has served as president and treasurer. She also has held a key role working with the organizations on their events. That includes the New Mexico Military Institute and its annual BRAVE 5K run. In addition, she produces community and health care resource guides for Roswell and Artesia.

Her awards are numerous and include the 2020 United Way Minor Huffman Caring Employee Award and the 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association.

“I have never ceased to be amazed at, if you have a plan and if you have vision, that people will support you,” she said. “Anything I have done has grown to have a life of its own.”

Gomez has taken coursework at several universities, including the University of Kansas, the University of New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. She said that she understands that she is inexperienced in the workings of the Chaves County Clerk’s Office, but she has been studying the New Mexico County Clerk Handbook and plans to take the formal training available to government officials through the New Mexico Edge program if elected.

She knows for certain one priority would be to make residents more aware of the functions of the Clerk’s Office, especially its role in voter registration and elections. She shared an anecdote about a person who identified himself as a felon who wasn’t aware that he was eligible to vote with certain documentation. She thinks a voters’ registration fair or similar events might help increase awareness.

“This freedom to be able to vote, this right of us to be able to vote … the way the office runs and things like that is secondary to how people know about the office and their rights as citizens to vote,” she said.

The other functions of the office include recording official documents such as deeds of trust and marriage licenses and processing informal probates. She said she thinks her appreciation for history and her nature of being “process-oriented” and “stickler for the rules,” would help in her management of those areas.

A major concern she has at this time is ensuring that people understand what information is public and maintaining appropriate confidentiality.

When it comes to such issues as voting security and same-day registration, she said that she thinks her role primarily will be to abide by the rules and procedures provided by the New Mexico Secretary of State or national offices.

“It is not going to be my job to question the policies,” she said. “It is going to be my job to follow the policies as they are written. It will not my job to be critical of anyone or anything that they put out there. It is my job to follow the guidelines as they are given to me.”

But she added that she would work to change something she thought to be unethical if it were within her power to change it.

She has three sons and six grandchildren and the husband she has been married to since high school. She said neither of them are anywhere near ready to retire and are geared for taking on new challenges.

With her supervisor at Frontier Medical supporting her decision to be a candidate, she has a job that awaits her if she doesn’t win the June 2 primary.

“I have absolutely nothing to lose,” Gomez said. “If I win, I gain a new job with new, exciting opportunities. And, if I don’t win, I still have a home to come back to if I want and, guess what, another adventure somewhere else.”

The clerk position has a four-year term starting in January 2021 and currently pays $65,855 a year.

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.