Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

On Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, Republicans gathered in Gough Park to hear from local and statewide candidates and to partake of homemade goodies, along with hamburgers and hot dogs. It rained on the "parade," but shelter was available under the large covered area.

Three local and three statewide candidates attended and spoke.

County Commissioner District 2 candidate Tyson, better known as Ty, Bays said he decided to run "because I was tired of what's going on in the county. I am a rancher and I work at the mine to support our ranch. I'm tired of environmentalists moving here and trying to tell us what to do. They show up at public meetings. A lot of them are being paid to be there and try to influence the County Commission. Basically, the commissioners told Holloman to come here, but only if it's critical. They have closed roads and trails. They have proposed to designate more wildernesses. The County Commission is getting involved in federal issues. They need to do what they were elected to do. Roads in the county are in shambles. Crime is bad in Grant County. We need to get a Sheriff like Ray Tavizon to fight crime. I'll say what needs to be said and will do what I need to do. Because I'm a Republican, it's an uphill battle, and I need every vote I can get."

Wayne Johnson, current state auditor by appointment, is on the ballot to remain in the state auditor position. He complimented Silver City as a beautiful town. "I am the first Republican auditor since 1970. I would like to remain in the position. The essence of what I do, is, yes, we audit, but most importantly, we keep counties, cities, and state agencies in their lane. We are the policy enforcer."

He said one of his first audits came in Silver City where his office found that a former town employee had embezzled about $12,000. "It was a misappropriation of funds and theft. It was done with the city credit card. She also approved the expenditures and reconciled them. We call it a lack of internal control. We look at that a lot. We make it known to the public. I'm in a fight right now with the New Mexico High Risk Insurance Pool. It has never been fully audited. It has a tremendous opportunity to spend money illegally. I will be in a legal battle. They say they are not subject to audit."

"I'm the transparency piece of state government," Johnson said. "I'm holding people accountable. It's one of the most important races in order to make sure your taxpayer dollars are being used properly. The sheriff is another important office."

County Commission District 1 candidate Sheila Hudman said her district covers part of the county east of Arenas Valley and includes Santa Clara. "I want to see Grant County come together from the Mimbres to Cliff and everywhere. We've accomplished a lot of economic development in Santa Clara. I want to continue that throughout the county. Education is the other issue I want to work on. I want a vocational program in the county. I also want to work on the opiate issue."

Tavizon is running for Grant County sheriff. "I decided to run again. With a change in department leadership, I thought this might be the year. I have dedicated 22 years of my life to Grant County. I have worked criminal cases. We have defense attorneys that try to make us look bad. Yes, sometimes, mistakes were made. But we got Dateline here to cover the murder trial, where Farrington was convicted of 1st degree murder."

"I can make suggestions in the department," Tavizon said. "If you get behind me and I become your sheriff, I will work for you. I will have an open-door policy. I want to better the department through more schooling, new training. I have experience and leadership skills. I was assistant chief of police in Lordsburg. When I'm in office, the Sheriff's Department will be there for you. Look beyond the party. I have experience and will do my best for you."

Gavin Clarkson is the candidate for Secretary of State. "When the previous candidate dropped out for family reasons, I stepped up to run. My grandmother always said: 'The Lord works in mysterious ways.' People called me to run because I have a background in corporate law. I'm still running for job creation, just as I was when I was on the ballot for the District 2 congressional seat. Yvette Herrell won that one handily. Since 2013, the Secretary of State office is in charge of corporations. You have to go through the office for your business. Right now, we have a progressive socialist in the office. My No. 1 priority is creating jobs. I have a vocational background in teaching IT and energy. Every company in the state needs people to fix things and make things. It's the reason why plumbers make more than poets. I am focused on jobs, because when New Mexico kids graduate from college, they leave to go to Texas, Arizona or Colorado. Imagine that we raise kids to go to vocational school and they come back home to raise your grandkids."

He said the Secretary of State office oversees corporations, is the chief of elections and "she has weaponized the election process."

For instance, Clarkson said in the case of Angel Peña, who was running for office, the secretary said it was impermissible to change the petition. "He put a tilde on his name, which wasn't on the printed form."

"I am in favor of voter ID," Clarkson said. "I am very pro-immigrant, but not the illegal kind. We clearly have a broken system in voter fraud. There are so many elections where the choice is made in the primary. We have just plain old garden-variety corruption. We're the 47th worst in almost everything. I'm working to lift our state out of the doldrums. If not for oil in Southeast New Mexico, we would be in even worse shape."

He said he is a member of the Choctaw Nation. "My father was an orphan Indian kid in Oklahoma, so broke he was digging through other Indian's trash. But he became the first Indian to fly a jet in World War II. The government doesn't create jobs. It needs to get out of the way. Maggie (Toulouse Oliver, the current secretary of state) is trying to bring back straight party voting. [Editor's Note: She proclaimed on Aug. 29 that the ballot for the General Election would have the straight party option again.] Maggie is trying to make it so if you gave money to a group, any group, she will publish your name. We need a Secretary of State who will follow the law, not make it. Get your non-progressive Democrat friends to vote for a Secretary of State who wants fair elections throughout the state. I will take your votes, your prayers and your financial help."

Ben Hall, candidate for Public Regulations Commission, District 5, said when he was asked what needed to change at the PRC, he replied: "Change the commissioners. We regulate electricity, gas, insurance, firefighting, transportation. I have experience in the position and would appreciate your vote."