Dona Ana County Sheriff ending term, candidates prepare for November elections
Voters in New Mexico decided who will be running in the general election. Many people had their eyes on the heated race for Dona Ana County Sheriff.
Whoever wins replaces current Sheriff Todd Garrison, who is the longest serving sheriff in Dona Ana County history.
"I have some very strong opinions about the sheriffs race," said Tana Hemingway.
Hemingway is one of thousands who came out to cast a ballot in Tuesday's New Mexico primary elections.
"Because we have some very important issues," she said.
Voting since she was 18, Hemingway said she researches the candidates and picks who she thinks will do the job the best.
Until Monday, she thought she knew exactly whom she was going to vote for in the race for Dona Ana County Sheriff.
"I switched who I am going to vote for on the basis to someone who has 30 years experience in this area," said Hemingway.
It appears she's not the only one who has a close eye on the Sheriffs race.
"Whoever runs the sheriff's department needs to be someone who has administrative experience. Not just one of the good old boys," said Leslie Piper.
Piper said current sheriff Todd Garrison has done a good job in office, but said he wants the next person to move the county forward.
"The county is growing and modernizing,” Piper said. “We can't do things like we did in 1987."
Sherriff Garrison declined our request to do an interview Tuesday, but we were able to speak with Dona Ana Sherriff's spokeswoman Kelly Jameson. She said just like any elected official, during the Sheriff's time in officer there have been a few ups and a few downs.
"I think he is ready to go on to the next chapter in his life and turn the reigns over to somebody else," said Jameson.
Sherriff Garrison is the longest consecutively serving sheriff in Dona Ana history. He was selected in 2005 by the County Commission, then elected in 2006 and 2010.
Jameson said one of his biggest accomplishments was adding four dedicated DWI patrol positions to the force.
"It is no secret DWI is a problem in Dona Ana. So it was important to the sheriff to do all that we could to reverse that," Jameson said.
Sheriff Garrison was also a vocal opponent of the dedication of the Organ Mountains as a nation monument; he said it would leave the county vulnerable. But it still went through last month.
Garrison leaves office on December 31st; the winner of the November election will take office on January 1st next year.
Jameson said whoever wins will have their work cut out for them, but the department is confident in all the candidates.