Sunday, May 3, 2015

VOTE MAY 5TH and make a difference in our future

This week we have a chance to make a difference.

On Tuesday, May 5, we'll decide three contested seats on the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

The what? 
Most folks learned about the DASWCD last year, when its board put on the ballot a measure calling for a tax increase to help fund the group. We learned that it spent much of its time passing resolutions against “Agenda 21” and against various measures to help protect wildlife. It opposed the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Monument.

SWCDs in other states, and even elsewhere in New Mexico, are active, useful, important agencies for conservation. SWCDs have a mission to “conserve and develop natural resources . . . provide for flood control, preserve wildlife, protect the tax base, and promote [people's] health, safety and general welfare.”

Our SWCD's Chairman, Joe Delk, has written that conservation districts can be a vital force in the battle between solid Christians and the "environmental cartels" he blames for “diminishing the presence and importance of Christian men and women.” (My blog post today will include links to some of Mr. Delk's comments, so that anyone can read them directly.)

The DASWCD should be cooperating with other government agencies to work on conservation and flood control; but the current Board doesn't like the government very much, and go out of their way to fire ideological attacks at the agencies it should be cooperating with.

Change is needed. Additional skills are needed. Balance is needed. Opening up the DASWCD to our diverse community is needed.

Three seats are up this year.

The challenger in the “at-large” seat is Dr. Roger Beck. He's a former NMSU professor of Agricultural Economics with more than 35 years' experience in sustainable economic development and long-term management of land and water resources. The incumbent [correction!]: is Melissa Gorham, a local realtor.   Everyone in the District can vote on this seat. Beck has the deeper pool of relevant experience and is less focused on representing just one segment of the community. Schickedanz is an ally of Chairman Delk.

The challenger in District 1 is Kurt Anderson. A retired NMSU Astronomy Professor who's lived here for more than forty years, he has a long-time interest in sustainable water use in our region. He serves on the board of the Doña Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association and on the Steering Committee of the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Committee. He has also served on the board of the New Mexico Rural Water Association. (He's opposed by Dr. Jerry Schickedanz, dean emeritus of NMSU's Ag Department, who was recently appointed by Governor Susana Martinez,.)

The challenger in District 2 (Southwestern Doña Ana County, including Mesilla) is Sally Williams, a retired executive who owns a small alfalfa farm in Mesilla. She's particularly interested in developing a long-term sustainable relationship between agriculture and domestic water use here.

I hope we put some new folks on the board. While agricultural interests should be represented on the Board, a Board consisting solely of ranchers and Tea Party folks can't serve the needs of our County. Our water and conservation needs are too pressing for “business as usual.”

In this election, each vote matters. The three polling places are open 7 a.m. To 7 p.m. Tuesday: County Offices on Motel Boulevard and the Anthony and Hatch Community Centers. Anyone can vote at any of the three.

If you feel that Agenda 21 is hamstringing local government and the BLM is a danger to our freedom, vote for the incumbent in your district.

If you feel DASWCD should fight for soil and water conservation and wildlife, then vote for the challenger.

But however you decide, please do vote.

[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, May 3, and will also appear on KRWG-TV's webpage today.]

[I should reiterate: (1) anyone can vote at any polling place; and (2) everyone can vote, in that (a) everyone can vote for Mr. Beck and (b) voters in Districts 1 or 2 can vote for the candidates from those district plus Mr. Beck.

The district system is very new by the way.  It would be interesting to know if the Board chose it to minimize the chance outsiders would capture seats.  If folks in Mesilla and Las Cruces could vote in all three races, things might be tougher for the incumbents.

As mentioned, here's my column from a year ago about these folks.  It has a cite to Delk's long comments about environmental cartels, which I'll insert here for everyone's convenience.
Among his points are that what he terms "environmental cartels"  are "working to control and expand measures that elevate a secular spiritualism while suppressing and diminishing the presence and importance of Christian men and women. They seek domination … they seek a monopoly of direction and policy."         
By contrast, "Conservation Districts, by their direct ties to the land, have not yet been altered or corrupted to become an arm of the progressive environmental cartels. They are a bastion of conservative leaders who are more closely aligned with traditional values that start with the sovereign individual and family units."
I just don't agree. I keep thinking a conservation organization ought to have at least some interest in conserving natural resources, including soil and water, and protecting wildlife.  I'm not understanding why a supposed conservation group should be focused mostly on fighting cultural wars about whether people are Christians or not -- let alone attacking most conservation measures.  Or, as Win Jacobs says in the only on-line comment on Delks's talk: 
Darn it, Joe! The district needs dam upgrades, a lot more than the world needs saving by any one creed (or screed!)
Win Jacobs
She added that his view might offend a lot of farmers she knows who see themselves as stewards of the land -- and as environmentalists.  
But then, Delk also credits our country's Founders with a concept (as he chooses to interpret it) then adds that unfortunately "too few of them understood the concept."  Our Founders didn't understand what they were doing, but Joe Delk does?  I sure don't!  I thought they painstakingly implemented a new concept, that the government of the people should be separate from any religion -- theirs, mine, yours, and even Joe Delk's!]

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