LAS CRUCES – Incumbent District 3 Doña Ana County Commissioner Shannon Reynolds is facing a challenge from Susie Kimble in this November’s local elections.
Reynolds, a Democrat, is currently serving his first term in a seat he was elected to in 2018. Reynolds worked a desk job in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and received a degree in general engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As a commissioner, Reynolds has chaired the Spaceport America Regional Spaceport Tax District Board and chaired the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority Board. He’s served on the New Mexico Association of Counties Board and served as treasurer and secretary of the New Mexico Commissioner Affiliate Board. He also previously served as a city councilman in Milford, Ohio.
Kimble, the Republican nominee in District 3, has been an insurance agent, did marketing and business development for Mesilla Valley Hospital and marketing for Memorial Medical Center and chaired Local Collaborative 3 and the New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council.
Kimble is a Texas A&M University graduate who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing/agriculture economics. She now runs her own consulting firm called Judy Enterprises, a business which consults on the healthcare industry, and serves as president of the Governing Council for the New America School in Las Cruces, a charter high school serving around 200 students which focuses on new immigrants, English language learners and academically underserved students.
Reynolds and Kimble are campaigning to represent a newly drawn district, the boundaries of which will become effective next year, though the voters of the new district will vote in District 3 this November.
District 3’s new boundaries encompass southeastern Doña Ana County, including the Las Alturas, Telshor, Foothills, Talavera, University Hills and Bellamah neighborhoods, New Mexico State University, White Sands Missile Range, Tortugas and Chaparral.
“The biggest responsibility I would have (as a commissioner) is being someone that oversees the fiscal operations of the county to make sure that it’s run in a fiscally responsible way,” Kimble said. “With a $300 million budget, that’s a lot of money going to a lot of people.”
Kimble said her role on the New America governing council has prepared her to take on the work of the county commission, since she currently deals with a budget consisting of a patchwork of funds from different sources which is sometimes meant for specific purposes, though she said she’d be applying her skills at a larger scale.
“Our money is public money at the school. It comes from the (New Mexico) Public Education Department. We get some federal grants,” Kimble said. “Mostly, it’s been working the budget meetings every single month for our school, seeing how the money is used, knowing that some of the money that comes in has to be used for certain things and can’t be used for certain other things.”
Reynolds said the job of a commissioner is to represent all people, especialy those who have felt underrepresented in the past. The incumbent District 3 commissioner emphasized he’s fully committed to his elected role.
“I’m not looking for my next job,” Reynolds said. “I’m not looking to do anything except represent the people in this community the best I can. Eighty percent of the people in this county cannot vote for me. Guess what? When I’m on the board, I’m voting for them. Every time I’m up on the board trying to make a decision, I’m not thinking about the 20 percent of people that elected me, I’m thinking about that 100 percent of the people that I serve.”
Reynolds said his certifications in ethics and public service through the EDGE program, a program through New Mexico State University which educates officials on public sector and local government work, is one thing which best qualifies him for the commission role. He is an NM EDGE Certified Public Official, NM EDGE Certified County Commissioner and NM EDGE Certified Advocate for Public Ethics.
On the issues
Reynolds said he’s campaigning on bringing good-paying jobs to the county which will keep people from moving away, improving behavioral health access and continuing to invest in the success of the Santa Teresa border industrial park. He also said he would support the state legislature revisiting the state’s bail reform amendment to keep dangerous criminals from being released on to the street.
But Reynolds also stressed the need for additional detention center space and better pay to address understaffing at the center.
Reynolds also supports boosting broadband internet access in the county and investing in road and flood control projects. Reynolds said he’s been satisfied with how the county has implemented legal cannabis business regulations, though he said he supports allowing outdoor consumption of cannabis in certain licensed spaces.
Kimble supports investing in roads and other infrastructure, improving behavioral health access and pushing for improved operations at the county crisis triage center. Kimble said a discussion needs to be had about how much money the county should continue to invest in the center given the center has been underutilized. She would also prioritize responsiveness to constituents who reach out to voice concerns or report issues.
Kimble also supports revisiting bail reform and said the county needs additional judges to address an overcrowded detention center, though Kimble also supports jail diversion when offenders have mental health issues.
Kimble recently spoke out against Mesilla Valley Pharmacy’s request to the City of Las Cruces to reduce a buffer distance to sell cannabis next to New America School. As a commissioner, while Kimble said she would support cannabis as she supports all types of businesses, she would favor strictly upholding the established buffer distances in county code.
Kimble said she would only support distance exceptions that came with conditions that stipulated the surrounding community has specific ways to eliminate those exceptions should a cannabis business not behave appropriately or cause problems in the area.
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Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for the Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected] or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.