Candidate slate set for three county positions

By Tony Parra

The Roosevelt County Sheriff’s position will be a two-man race with the incumbent Tom Gossett running against county deputy Darren Hooker in the June 6 primaries.

Tuesday was the only day candidates could file with the county clerk’s office and three positions will be contested. Since both of them are Republicans and no Democrats filed for the position, the primary election in June will more than likely decide who will be sheriff for the next four years.

Gossett, 61, has been in law enforcement since 1968. When he took office in January of 2003, Gossett said his goals were to crack down on burglaries, illegal calf-dumping and lack of following through on investigations. He said he has been successful in those tasks. Gossett said county residents encouraging him to run for re-election and fulfilling the needs of deputies are two big reasons why he decided to run for re-election.

“The county deserves law protection,” Gossett said. “I understand budget constraints, but if I didn’t ask for raises, who’s going to do it? My agenda is to continue to help the deputies gain a living wage, a 20-year retirement plan and an incentive program.”

Gossett will face Hooker, who in March returned from his tour in Iraq as a first lieutenant with the 126th Military Police, an New Mexico National Guard unit. Hooker will be going back to work as county deputy in April. Hooker, 37, started out as a military police officer in 1986 and after 10 years, he became certified in Santa Fe in 1996 for law enforcement in New Mexico.

Hooker served as a police officer for Eastern New Mexico University and the Portales Police Departme’nt before joining the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy in 1999, where he is currently employed.

Hooker wants to bring the department’s technology more up-to-date with automation, but at the same time maintain a relationship with the county residents.

“I love Roosevelt County and I want to give something back,” Hooker said. “I want to give the county residents the support they need and deserve.”

The other contested race will be between new candidates Charles Bennett and Bill Cathey for county commissioner of District 3. Current commissioner, Tom Clark, cannot run because he will have served the maximum of eight years allowed under state statutes.

Bennett, 54, is the co-owner of Buena Vista Realty with his wife Beverly. Bennett has owned the real estate business for almost 20 years. Bennett said the county needs to prepare for growth.

“I want to be able to give back to the county,” Bennett said. “The county needs to be ready for growth. There’s going to be a lot of issues dealing with subdivisions. There needs to be zoning planning to take care of those issues.”

Cathey, 45, is a self-employed welder as well as volunteer firefighter and a school-bus driver for Dora Consolidated schools. Cathey has been a volunteer firefighter for 17 years and is currently serving on the Dora City Council.

“I had people influence me and tell me I would make a good county commissioner,” Cathey said. “I think it’s going well for the county. We have good roads, safe roads.”

Incumbent Jane Martin, a Democrat, is the only person who filed for the magistrate judge’s position.

Incumbent Paul Grider, a Democrat, will run for re-election for the District 5 county commissioner spot and incumbent Gene Creighton, a Democrat, will run for re-election for the District 4 spot.

Royene Tivis will also have served the maximum 8-year term as county assessor. Tex Belcher, a Democrat, and Chad Heflin, a Republican, will be running for the county assessor position.

Roosevelt County Clerk Janet Collins said all county voters will be receiving new voter ID cards from the state of New Mexico between April 7-27. Collins said voters need to be sure all of the information on the cards is correct and if they have any questions, they can call the county clerk’s office at 356-8562. May 9 is the last day to register to vote for the primary election.