[Editor's Note: This is part 4 of a multi-part series of articles on the work session and regular meetings of the Grant County Commission on Dec. 18 and 20, 2018.]

Photo and article by Mary Alice Murphy


The first main item on the regular meeting agenda was a recognition of the departure of two commissioners and the sheriff for being termed out.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos spoke first. "Thank you for the great opportunity to serve as your county commissioner. It has been an enjoyable and humbling experience. I learned a lot from my peers and from conversations with the public. There were always controversial topics and the opposition provided learning tools. It made me more humble, but I feel we've done a good job. We got caught up with the audit and it was a privilege to serve with Commission (Brett) Kasten. I feel lucky for serving during the time that Tu Casa came into being and for refurbishing Bataan Park. I thank Grant County for allowing me the opportunity to serve for the past 8 years. I wish luck to Commissioner-Elect Chris Ponce and to my replacement Commissioner-Elect Harvey Salas. It's never an easy job. We must never forget where we come from and never forget who got us here—the residents of Grant County."

Sheriff Raul Villanueva said he would leave Grant County after 23 years of service, nine as sheriff. [He was appointed to finish the term of his predecessor and was elected twice to the position.] "We have had to deal with a lot of challenging situations. I thank my family and everyone who served. I honor Gabe and Brett for their service and for working together with me in my position. My replacement (Sheriff-Elect Frank Gomez) has hit the ground running. I look forward to my next opportunities."

Kasten said he has the utmost confidence that the two incoming commissioners "will be great. I thank everyone I worked with. I could never have worked with a better group of commissioners, including Commissioner Christy Miller and Commissioner Ron Hall and the present group. We have the best elected officials and management. It is bittersweet to leave, but after I congratulate the incoming officials, I want to tell them the same thing I said when I came in: 'Let's have fun.' It's been a great ride."

Commissioner Alicia Edwards thanked the incoming commissioners and sheriff for being present at the meeting. I thank Sheriff Villanueva. We needed a system change to create diversity in the commission. What Kasten did in promoting a five-person commission succeeded in creating that diversity. I hope people say that we left the county better than when we came in. We have an amazing county manager (Charlene Webb). Brett and Gabe and (Commissioner) Harry (Browne) and (Commission Chairman) Billy (Billings) have a deep commitment to the county. We listen and disagree respectfully and come to respectful conclusions."

Browne said he wanted to add the word democracy to what Edwards had said. "I felt it in the first person. Democracy is an incredibly flawed system. We have to deal with mud-slinging and then share the commitment to do our best for the county. I feel strongly we did a great job managing to work together in spite of elections that present us as opposition. We then have to shower off the mud and work together."

Billings agreed with Edwards's comments and with Browne's "shower thing. I gained real respect for the system and the people who put themselves forth to run. I didn't know Gabe well when I came in, but he is a man of his word. When he stood for something he didn't change. I've known Kasten a long time, from high school. I appreciate his wisdom. He's a lot smarter that I thought he was in chemistry class. I do appreciate what these commissioners did. They turned the county around and made it financially stable. It had to do with the county manager, the other commissioners and the staff."

Live from Silver City

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