At-large voting defended by commission

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

Quay County’s decision to maintain an at-large voting plan for county commissioners is based on a desire to give residents a choice and to allow all commissioners to work for the entire county, according to Commission Chair Franklin McCasland.

“Each commissioner works towards the good of the entire county, not just the benefit of the district they represent,” McCasland said.

McCasland’s comments followed a public comment by Daniel Garcia, a District 1 resident, who recently ran in the June 7 primary election for commissioner.

Garcia said he does not understand why the county went to voting at-large. He said it should be left to each district to vote for their commissioner.

Garcia has said that at-large voting for the county commission seats results in what he has called “institutional racism.”

“I will not be running for commissioner again, but this is an issue that I will not give up on,” Garcia said.

McCasland said the state statute allowed the commission to change to an at-large voting plan. He said at-large voting allows residents to vote for the commissioner they feel would do the best job representing the entire county.

“Everybody has a vote,” McCasland said. “As commissioners, we do not ask what is best for our district. We ask what is best for the entire county.”

County commissioners also discussed their disapproval over the cutting of money in the New Mexico Department of Transportation program that pays for the county’s DWI Compliance programs.

“Perhaps the county should send a letter that explains how upset we are about the cut in the funds” for the drunken-driving compliance programs, said District 1 Commissioner Sue Dowell.

“This is a cut that affects numerous counties statewide and each, including ours, has made the state aware of our disapproval of the cuts, said County Manager Richard Primrose.

Commissioners also discussed a state proposed burn ban on certain types of fireworks in the county.

“This ban is being called for too late,” McCasland said.

McCasland said bans of this type are usually made more than 30 days before the Fourth of July holiday.

To try and place this ban now and enforce it will be difficult and cause a lot extra work for those who have to enforce it, said District 2 Commissioner Mike Cherry.

The ban was only listed as a discussion item and commissioners did not take any action on it.

In other business, commissioners:
• Approved the DWI grant agreement
• Approved the Rural Primary Health Care Act memorandum of agreement.
• Approved the DWI program professional services contract.

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