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Local candidates raise campaign cash

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Campaigns for county offices took in significant amounts of money in the last six months, with some candidates garnering contributions from other elected officials and businesses, while others have largely self-funded their efforts.

Jeff Bilberry, a Republican who now represents District 3 on the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, raked in $6,376.54 between Oct. 8, 2019 and April 6, 2020 and has $4,692.83 remaining in the bank as of April 13, according to campaign finance reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

Randy Robertson, who is challenging Bilberry in the June 2 Republican primary, raised $5,555 in the same fundraising period, including $3,200 the candidate gave to his own campaign, according to records. As of April 13, Robertson’s campaign had $774.20 remaining in the bank.

Sheryl Cox of Roswell and Big Buck Services LLC, a trucking company in Hagerman, each contributed $1,000 to Robertson’s campaign.

Bilberry received support from many current local officeholders.

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Commissioners Will Cavin of District 5 and T. Calder Ezzell of District 2 gave Bilberry’s campaign $200 and $226.54, respectively, according to records.

State Rep. Phelps Anderson, R-Roswell, donated $250.

Cross L Slash LLC and ranchers Tommy and Melanie Dinwiddle of Capitan each gave Bilberry’s campaign $2,500.

In the Republican primary for the District 4 seat on the Board of Commissioners, Richard Taylor has a clear fundraising edge over opponent Barry Foster.

Taylor and Foster are both vying to be their party’s nominee for the Commission seat now held by Republican Robert Corn. Corn is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.

According to records, Taylor, who was on the Commission from 2003 to 2011, raised $7,025 in the last six months. As of April 6, Taylor had $3,981.88 remaining in his campaign war chest.

The campaign of Foster, a Roswell city councilor, took in $1,000 in the same period, all of which was donated by the candidate himself. Foster entered April with $103.28 cash on hand.

Strata Production Company, an oil and gas production company in Roswell, provided Taylor’s campaign $5,000, the maximum amount currently allowed under New Mexico law.

Taylor donated $500 to his own campaign. State Rep. Phelps Anderson, R-Roswell, gave $250 and Hope Morales of the Roswell Independent School District Board gave $50, according to records.

Republican Barbara Gomez received more money in her bid for Chaves County Clerk than her primary opponent Cindy Fuller. Fuller, however, has received more in contributions from elected officials.

Dave Kunko, the current clerk and a Republican, is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.

Gomez has raised $5,760, of which $5,000 came from Jesse Gomez, an intensive care unit nurse from Roswell, according to records. She now has $5,053.39 remaining in the bank.

Fuller’s campaign raised $2,578.47 with $1,391.65 in cash left on hand.

Donors to Fuller’s campaign during the fundraising period included: $363.47 from Kunko; $100 from County Assessor Mark Willard; and District 59 state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, contributed $200.

Because no Democrat has filed to run for the position, the winner of the Republican Party will be the next county clerk.

Most candidates for county office do not face any primary or general election opposition this year and have had little fundraising.

Ezzell, a Republican who is up for re-election, did not receive any contributions during the recent fundraising period, but has $100 cash remaining in his campaign account.

Dianna Luce, a Republican running for re-election as District Attorney in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District, which consists of Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties, raised a total of $1.39 since October. She finished the fundraising period with a total of $2,963.56 on hand.

Charlotte Andrade, a Republican, did not raise any money or have any money on hand in her bid for re-election as Chaves County Treasurer.

District Judge Jared Kallunki, a Democrat running unopposed for his first term as Division XVI Judge on the Fifth Judicial District Court, has also not raised any money.

Kallunki was appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier this year to fill the vacancy created after Judge Kea Riggs resigned the position last year to accept a federal judgeship.

The campaign of Thomas Lilley, a Division II Judge in the New Mexico 5th Judicial District, raised $9,568.75, of which $7,518.75 was from loans the candidate made to his own campaign, records state.

Lilley, a Democrat, was appointed to the post last year by Lujan Grisham to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of District Judge Freddie Romero.

Charles Currier, a local attorney and retired Division XVI District Judge in the New Mexico 5th Judicial District, donated $500 to Lilley’s campaign, according to records.

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

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.