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Lea picks hometown boy for Senate seat

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Lea picks hometown boy for Senate seat

Curtis C. Wynne/News-Sun

LOVINGTON — The Lea County Commission chose to nominate Travis Glenn of Tatum to replace retiring State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales.

After three candidates appeared before the commission Thursday, on a second round vote of 4-1, the commissioners allowed local representation to shut out experience and passion, as Commissioner Gary Eidson described the candidates.

With Ingle’s retirement last month, the state senate seat for Senate District 27 became vacant. District 27 includes a portion of northern Lea County, including Tatum, as well as Roosevelt County and portions of Curry, DeBaca and Chaves counties.

Under New Mexico law, each county must recommend one person to fill the vacant seat until the end of Ingle’s term, with the governor to appoint one from the list of names she receives.

In this case, the person appointed by the governor will serve in the Senate only during the upcoming 30-day session. The voters will decide a permanent senator in the primary and general elections next year.

In addition to Glenn, State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, and Larry Marker, also of Roswell, spoke with the commission Thursday.

Nibert touted his experience in the Legislature as a member of the House of Representatives since 2017. Marker addressed and illustrated his passion for the issues.

Glenn pointed out his 30 years on the Tatum School Board, listing education as the first of three priority issues. Also a member of the New Mexico Junior College Board, Glenn is president of Glenn Water Well Service in Tatum.

“The biggest issue we have right now concerning education is the lack of local control,” Glenn said, committing to an effort to return decision making to parents and local school boards.
Water and energy are the other two issues important to Glenn.

“Water is a critical issue in Lea County and New Mexico. Water is a precious commodity,” Glenn said, adding, “One of the big issues I see is the disproportionate difference between the (energy derived) revenue Lea County sends to Santa Fe and the appropriations Santa Fe sends back.”

An oil and gas attorney, Nibert, who had already garnered the nod from Curry County, told the commissioners, “I’m ready to go. I’ve been there. I have the relationships. I have the experience. I think we will not skip a beat and if you send my name to the governor and the governor chooses to select me, I will be able to step in the shoes of a very longtime senator with a lot of clout.”

Nibert also noted his membership on the executive board of The Energy Council, a non-partisan legislative organization comprised of 15 energy-producing states in the United States and two Canadian provinces. Formed in 1975, the Council serves as a forum for energy and related environmental policy dialogue.

Marker called for grassroots change in state politics, insisting on the need for a bigger hammer to get the job done.

“You’ve got three very good gentlemen and I can promise you each one of us, if we went to that 30-day session, we would all vote exactly the same. We’re all conservative, we’re all Republicans,” Marker said.

He expressed the hope he could use the Senate seat to lever greater citizen involvement in decision making.

Both Marker and Nibert told the commission they will be running for the seat in June’s Republican primary election.

A fourth candidate, Elida rancher Pat Boone, who was picked by Roosevelt County, had been scheduled to meet with the Lea County Commission, but was unable to attend due to a previous commitment.

Beside Curry County, Nibert received the nod from DeBaca County and on Thursday morning also received his Chaves County.

There is no deadline for Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham to appoint Ingle’s replacement.

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