Read a candidate biography on Robert S. Jeska
Editor's note: These are part of an ongoing series of stories the Sun-News will run daily looking at the local races in the upcoming election.
LAS CRUCES - Republican Robert Jeska and Democrat Wayne Hancock are both making their first run for public office, and both tout their executive experience outside of government as making them the best choice for Doña Ana County Commission, District 4.
Scott Krahling has represented District 4, which covers the northeastern part of the county, for the last four years. His residence was moved into District 5, where he lost to Leticia Duarte-Benavidez in the Democratic primary election.
Both Hancock and Jeska are military veterans. Jeska entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at age 17, and spent 34 years in the service, living in more than 30 different countries. He moved to Doña Ana County 13 years ago as test commander at White Sands Missile Range.
"I've spent many, many years now and two different careers taking care of other people's stuff and other people's things, and I can do that here," Jeska said. He currently serves as executive director of the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission, which he described as the most gratifying job he's ever had.
"I look forward to coming to work.
Jeska said he has informed the Rescue Mission board of his desire to serve as a county commissioner, and would intend to retain his job at the Rescue Mission if he's elected.
Hancock is a Vietnam War veteran and entrepreneur who, at 64, is still a partner in a telecommunications business in Mexico.
"I have created numerous businesses," he said. "I understand the creative process and how important it is to empower the staff, how important it is to have good budgets, to have good plans. When you commit your own funds to be successful, it gets very, very personal."
Hancock said poor management has led to discouragement among county employees.
"It's been a good ol' boys network for so long that many of the employees don't believe that it can work right and they're going to be managed appropriately," he said.
"Nobody wants to be a county employee. It's the worst job you can have and we've got to fix that We've got to make the county a place where people with a high level of skills come to because they believe in it."
He said implementation of a strategic plan will help everyone in county government understand what the goals and priorities are.
Jeska said he has run a 2,000-person organization, and knows how important trust and confidence in leadership is.
"I know these are not bad people in the county," Jeska said. "They do not have a reason to have trust and confidence in their chain of command. That has to work both ways for a healthy organization."
Hancock said the crisis triage center being constructed by the county to provide temporary, emergency care for the mentally ill away from a law enforcement setting has the potential to be a model for the nation.
Jeska, who is a member of the New Mexico Mounted Patrol, agreed.
"I've been involved in taking people to jail, and there have been occasions where I have known that in my heart they don't belong there, but we haven't had a capability," he said.
Hancock said he supports the proposed Organ Mountains national monument, saying it's the least intrusive proposal for ranchers and will protect the lands for future generations.
Jeska said he has yet to hear from the Bureau of Land Management as to what problems currently exist in those proposed areas, and how creation of a national monument would solve those problems.
As a proponent of less government, and the head of the rescue mission, Jeska said he struggles with issues regarding government support for the poor and homeless.
"The government has programs that are intended to help people. Every day, I wonder myself. It's a conflict," he said. "At what point does charity transform into enablement? I wrestle with that, and I know that government officials must as well."
Along with leading the Rescue Mission, Jeska has also has been chairman of the Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade for 10 years, serves as a part-time volunteer peace officer with the Mounted Patrol and volunteers with Turning Point, a nonprofit pregnancy help center.
Hancock serves on the Las Cruces Parks and Recreation advisory board; is vice president of the Miramar/Maricopa Neighborhood Association; was principal organizer of the recent Las Cruces Neighborhoods Summit; and is active in food distribution at Butterfield Community Center.
Walter Rubel can be reached at 541-5441.