Believing the county needs continuity in leadership, Chaves County Commissioner T. Calder Ezzell is running for a second term representing District 2.
“Commissioner (Robert) Corn will be termed out,” he said of his District 4 colleague who is completing his second term, “and I think it’s important for us to be responsible managers of the county’s business, that we maintain that continuity.”
Managing a business is how Ezzell, a Republican, said he sees the job of the county commission, rather than as a political position.
“I liken it more to being on the board of directors of a corporation. We’ve got a $60 or $70 million business that we’re running every year,” he said.
“I have experience in finance and serve on the Finance Committee for the county, and I want to serve another term just to maintain that good stewardship of our finances,” he said.
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A partner in the Roswell law firm Hinkle Shanor, Ezzell specializes in oil and gas, something that gives him insight into the industry’s contribution to state and county revenues.
“The industry provides the state with about 40% of its budget,” he said.
He believes Chaves County will be better off than the state with the downturn in the oil industry, though. The state budget assumed an average oil price of $52 a barrel. It is now about $20 a barrel or less. He anticipates the governor will call the Legislature into a special session to fix the budget that starts in July and reduce funds to local governments.
“I don’t think they have any choice but to do that,” he said.
But he said the commission’s responsible management has left the county in a good position financially.
“Our per capita debt for Chaves County is about $63 per person, so we’re in really good shape,” he said.
Property taxes, gross receipts taxes and especially federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for land not on property tax rolls help protect the county’s revenue stream, he said.
“We are constantly working with our representatives in Washington to ensure the PILT program and Secure Rural Schools programs are funded annually,” he said.
Ezzell said he wanted to remind everyone to exercise their right to vote in both the June primary and November general elections.
“If you’re concerned about the coronavirus, call the county clerk’s office and ask for an absentee ballot,” he said.
A native of Paducah, Kentucky, Ezzell came to Roswell in 1977 after receiving his law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law, Lexington, Virginia. He has worked at Hinkle Shanor since then.
He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, American Association of Professional Landmen and the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico.
He is married to Candy Spence Ezzell, who represents District 58 in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.