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Kiwanis sweep through local candidates

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By Roger Snodgrass

Two county council candidates, Sharon Stover and Mike Wismer (who said he will file today), and the county’s veteran state legislator, Jeannette Wallace concluded the Kiwanis Club series with aspirants for local offices. While voters went to the polls Tuesday, these candidates were not hanging on the day’s outcome.

Republican Sharon Stover’s test will arrive during the general election in November, when the five council candidates will be pared down to three. Planning to run as an Independent, Wismer was not on Tuesday’s primary ballot.

Republican Wallace, finishing her ninth term in the New Mexico House of Representatives, has no opponent in the fall.

“I’m so glad I don’t have an opponent,” Wallace said, “because I don’t like elections all that much.”

“I want to keep on keeping on,” Stover said, discussing why she wants to return to the council after a previous term from 1998-2002. “I want to do it again.”

Stover has been most active recently in the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and youth leadership initiatives and programs.

Among many current commitments in the community, she mentioned service on the YMCA board, the school foundation, the 60th anniversary celebration and the White Rock economic development plan.

“I’m a glass half-full person,” Stover said, balancing the positive economic condition of the county with the challenges, particularly chronic “retail leakage,” that the new development at Trinity Site is intended to address.

She is an advocate of the “community of choice” concept – which tries to create the kind of community that attracts the best people. That’s always going to be a challenge, she said, “because we’re kind of at the end of a cul-de-sac.”

Also a believer in public input and “options developed and debated by the public,” she passed out campaign literature. These “What’s-on-your-mind,” cards were not about herself, but rather solicited voter input on priorities and issues.

After the meeting, she looked over the cards and noted that the skate park and White Rock development were prominently mentioned.

Wismer’s campaign brochure leads with a quote by Groucho Marx: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

He called attention to the quote at the beginning of his talk and came back to it at the end to criticize the “pugilistic infighting” visible in the primary campaigns.

“All you see are attack ads,” he said.

Wismer seeks to return to the council, in his case, after a one-term hiatus.

“I am a certified ‘councilholic,’” he said.

He made the point in the context of having spent some time as a government advisor in the Iraq war zone, where some of the lessons and values of local democratic government were driven home.

“I want to maintain and where possible improve services,” Wismer said, speaking of public services like police and fire, but also emphasizing public transit.

“Our ability to do other things is all going to depend on public transit,” he said, recommending free public transportation as a “permanent part of the county.”

Kiwanis board member Charmian Schaller asked Wismer why he was running as an independent. Wismer said he didn’t think party affiliation was very relevant to local government and that councilors are “independent thinkers” who make their decisions based on all the information rather than party identification.

Wallace engaged the group in a quiz of little-known facts about the state legislature.

“Average years of service?” she asked.

In the House, she answered, 86 percent of members have 16 years or less and 28 percent have 4 years or less; in the Senate 80 percent have 16 years or less.

As far as term limits, she concluded, “We impose our own.”

“Average age of legislators?” The answer: 60 in the House and 58 in the Senate.

“We’re more mature on the House side,” she joked.