By Kevin Wilson and Mickey Winfield: Freedom New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico residents surveyed were optimistic of Gov. Bill
Richardson’s next move, and the change it will provide in New Mexico.
Richardson is leaving midway through his second term as New Mexico
governor to join the Cabinet of President-Elect Barack Obama.
Richardson, a Democrat, was tapped on Wednesday to be the next
secretary of commerce.
The move, and Richardson’s desire to accept, weren’t all that surprising, said Paul Hunton of Portales.
“I think that’s a great opportunity for him,” said Hunton, a service
manager for an auto parts store in Portales. “I don’t think he planned
to stay here anyway. I think he was always looking for a job in the
next Democratic administration.”
Before running for governor in 2002, Richardson was energy secretary for Bill Clinton’s administration.
“I think he brings some experience to the administration,” Hunton
said. “That’s what Obama’s trying to do, surround himself with
experienced politicians, and I think Richardson fits the bill.”
Richardson also spent 14 years as the representative for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional district.
“I think he is the best Congressman we have ever had,” said Phyllis
June Finley, a retired cosmetologist who lives in Clovis. “He went
overseas and he did a lot.”
Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield approved of the move and said it should benefit eastern New Mexico.
“He’s always been such a supporter of Clovis and this area. In this
new position, which is supporting (business opportunities), it will
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, a Hobbs native, will become the state’s first female governor when Richardson resigns.
“She’s a good friend of mine and a good friend to Portales and to
Roosevelt County,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “She has roots
in eastern New Mexico. She understands rural New Mexico, she
understands agriculture and small business.”
Brumfield agrees, and thinks the change will provide a good amount of continuity.
“Diane Denish has always been a huge supporter of Clovis. She was
always in the middle of the (Base Realignment and Closing) things going
on. She knows our issues, she’s from eastern New Mexico, so she really
has a heart for this side of the state. I think she will carry on the
tradition and she’ll be here for us.”
Brumfield, Clovis’ first female mayor, said there are concerns that capital outlay not yet spent could be rescinded.
“New Mexico, like the rest of the country, with the economic crisis,
is going to face some challenges,” Hunton said. “But I think she’ll be
ready for it.”