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Tim Jennings announces mayoral bid

Tim Jennings gives a speech Saturday afternoon at the downtown Chaves County Courthouse about his decision to run for mayor of the city of Roswell for the 2022 municipal election. “We can have a positive community,” he says, “and we can look forward to working with each other to bring everyone together.” (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Former state senator and Chaves County commissioner and current Chaves County Flood Commissioner Tim Jennings has said that he will emphasize job growth and bipartisan cooperation for the purpose of improving the city if elected Roswell mayor in the 2022 municipal elections.

During a Saturday afternoon campaign announcement speech on the steps of the Chaves County Courthouse, Jennings told a crowd of about 50 people that he wants to boost economic growth; hire more police officers; improve city services; reduce or eliminate fees to city facilities, parks and museums; and keep health care facilities operating for people who need them in the midst of continued concerns about COVID-19.

A Roswell native and a rancher, Jennings is challenging incumbent Dennis Kintigh, who announced in September that he intends to run for a third term. No one else has made a press announcement about running, but candidates have until Jan. 4 to file for the elections that also will have one seat in all five of the city council districts in play.

“Right now in the city of Roswell, we need some change,” Jennings said. “We can do better than what we are doing. It is little things that seem to make a difference to me.”

He said the city should have planned better logistically and financially to avoid a situation where they were running out of space in an open cell at the Roswell landfill. He called a water meter and billing conversion “a mess” and wants the city to adopt a better system for road repairs and maintenance. After his speech, he also cited problems with exterior lighting at the new Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center and with the sewer system at the renovated Roswell Convention Center.

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“When we build a bridge it takes a year and a half — maybe two years to build Garden (Avenue). And we are going through the same thing on Deming and Lea,” he said during the speech. “We have a lot of issues that we need to address. But we can do this stuff where we can sit down and work together and figure out how to put everyone together working toward the common goal.”

He asked his supporters to be part of the “80% in the middle” who can work together. He also asked them to help find candidates for city council who will be willing to work with him and each other and put “bickering” aside.

Job growth was a major focus of his remarks.

“We need to stand up for our community for economic interest,” he said. “One of the things that we need the most are jobs. One of the best facilities we have is the air facility out there to look for jobs.”

Jennings said that he worked with the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. in its plan to create construction-ready sites on the east and south of the airfield for new hangars and business sites.

Jennings also said the city needs to support education in public schools and at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, including to ensure that students have transportation to the college. He also criticized the city for not having a current services agreement with MainStreet Roswell, a downtown economic development group.

Jennings feels that crime is a concern to many. He said he does not have in mind an exact number of police officers he would want to see added, but he told the crowd that he thought the city should have sent police to the Eastern New Mexico State Fair.

“One of the only times the police see a lot of citizens in a friendly manner is at the fair. Why would anybody stop the policeman from going to the fair and working the fair?” he asked, adding that he wants the police to know that “we’re behind them and we want a safe community.”

A member of the crowd asked about recycling. The city ended free recycling services in late 2020 and a company providing curbside recycling service for paying customers as a city contractor in 2021 has announced its decision to close. Jennings criticized the city for charging the company a “tax,” referring to the franchise fee of 7% of its gross receipts.

“Recycling is something we are really going to have to get after and really start pushing,” he said.

He also said that children should be able to go to museums for free. If fees are needed at Spring River Zoo or for other city facilities, room rentals and attractions, they should be as low as possible, he contended.

After the speech, he said he is not for government mandates regarding face masks or vaccinations. During his announcement he said that the city will continue to have to deal with COVID-19 on a daily basis for the time being.

“We have gone through this pandemic and we are learning how to deal with it,” he said. “We are coping with it and people are doing well. We still have to work a little bit to fix that up and keep our health care facilities open for all our people who have other health conditions.”

Jennings graduated high school from New Mexico Military Institute and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Creighton University in 1972. He served as a Democrat in the District 32 state senate seat from 1979 to 2012 and as a Chaves County commissioner from 1974 to 1978.

“I have fought for this city my entire life, either as a county commissioner or in the Legislature and I have always continued to look for positive movement forward for us,” he said.

Election day for municipal offices are March 1, with absentee and early voting starting Feb. 1.

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

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