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Jones to opt out of second county term

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LOVINGTON — With more than a year left in his current term of office, Lea County Commissioner Don Jones announced Thursday he has decided to sit out the next election.

By state law, county commissioners are allowed to serve two successive four-year terms, but Jones decided one term was enough. He said he will finish his current term, leaving office at the end of 2020.

Jones was elected to represent Lea County’s District 5, the southern end of the county, in 2016, taking office in January 2017. He would have been up for re-election next year, but said he plans to spend more time with his g reat-g randchildren.

“It was just time,” Jones told the News-Sun after making the announcement during Thursday’s regular county commission meeting.

The 72-year-old Republican said he expected no opposition next year, but wanted to give someone else an opportunity to run for his seat.

“I enjoyed being a county commissioner and working with the excellent county staff,” Jones said during his brief announcement at the commission meeting. “I also have enjoyed working with me fellow commissioners. We may not agree all the time, but we agree to disagree.”

To the News-Sun, Jones cited his age as the primary reason for calling it quits.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. There are so many good things. Everything is going good. Everybody is good to work with,” Jones said. “I’m just getting on up there in age — I would be in my late 70s (by the end of the next term) and I really didn’t think I wanted to be doing that in my late 70s.”

Residing at his property in southern Lea County, Jones said, “I’m one of those guys that is built for retirement. I have a shop, a ranch and rope. I have four great-grandkids, little ones. I did this for me and my family.”

Jones entered his service as commissioner while still serving as president of the Eunice Municipal School Board, but dropped off the school board at the end of the term in 2017.

A long-time educator, retired school teacher and principal, as well as a school board member, Jones has been a Lea County resident for more than 40 years.

Jones also served on boards for the Lea County Rodeo Association, American Junior Rodeo Association, High Plains Junior Rodeo Association, Eunice Roping Club and Lea County Zoning Board.

“Everybody else is telling me we need you up there, but I think it was just time,” Jones concluded.

Each of the other commissioners offered comments of praise for Jones and their time working on the commission with him, reminding him they plan to continue working with him for another year. His term ends in December 2020.

“You know I have begged you to run again,” Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Long said to Jones. “You fill a real niche on this board. We will feel a loss with you not being on here with us again.”

Curtis C. Wynne may be contacted at reporter3@hobbsnews. com.

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