Candidates file to run for San Juan County offices

Ryan Boetel The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Two men are challenging San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen for the Republican nomination for the seat, which is one of several contested county races this year.

Candidates vying to be county sheriff, county commissioners, magistrate judges and state representatives were among those who filed paperwork to run on Tuesday at the San Juan County Clerk's Office.

The primary election is on June 3, and the general election is Nov. 4.

This year, four state representatives, two county commissioners, six magistrate judges, the county sheriff, the county assessor and a probate judge are up for election.

Sheriff Christesen is running for re-election. Daniel Goldberg, the president of Bad Boyz Bail Bonds, and Mike Kovacs, the Bloomfield police chief, are challenging him. All three men are Republicans.

Christesen said his initiatives have decreased crime and traffic crashes since he took over the office in January 2011.

He said he's increased the volunteer program, which saves taxpayers money. And he created a standards system — which gives deputies points for writing reports, citations or attending community events — that has increased efficiency, he said.

"That's a quota system, and no police chief or sheriff in the country will admit they have a quota system because they are wrong," Goldberg said. "Sure, he gives points for community outreach, but that doesn't take away the fact that it's a quota system."

Goldberg said he voted for Christesen in 2010 but is running against him this year because Christesen hasn't done enough to address corruption and improve the community's perception of local law enforcement.

If elected, Goldberg said he will create a citizen panel to review complaints against sheriff's office deputies to add transparency to internal affairs.

Kovacs said several groups of people approached him to run for sheriff. He plans to retire as Bloomfield's police chief in May.

He said he shares many of Christesen's philosophies when it comes to fighting crime, but, if elected, he would increase cooperation between the sheriff's office and other local police agencies.

"I have a proven track record for leadership," said Kovacs, who worked at the sheriff's office from 1996 to 2006. "It's important to have more cooperation with local and state agencies."

If elected, Kovacs said he would also focus on improving school safety.

Christesen said he started work at the sheriff's office in January 1989 and retired as a lieutenant so he could run for sheriff.

"I've spent my whole career at (the San Juan County) sheriff's office. I've never worked anywhere else, and I've never even applied anywhere else," Christesen said. "The reason people should run for sheriff is because they want to have a legacy of doing the right thing for the right reason."

If elected to serve another term, Christesen said he would work to continue the successful changes he has made to the sheriff's office. In addition to improving volunteer work and efficiency, he said he has raised awareness of the sex offender registration program and targeted repeat offenders.

Also on Tuesday, Rod Montoya and Karen Bayless both filed to run for state representative for District 1, which includes most of Farmington and reaches north to the state line. Montoya and Bayless are Republicans seeking to replace Tom Taylor in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Taylor is not running for re-election.

Bayless has worked the last six years as a legislative assistant for state senators and representatives. She said she has an understanding of how to make changes as a representative. She is campaigning on a platform promoting education, economic development and energy.

San Juan County "needs someone who understands how you make changes in the Legislature," she said.

Montoya works for Western Explosives, which sells explosives to Navajo Mine. He has also worked on the campaigns of more than 35 Republican candidates seeking office and was twice nominated to serve as the San Juan County Republican Party chairman.

He said one of his bests assets is he is "tactical" and an experienced negotiator who knows how politics work.

"This is a very conservative district, and I am by far going to be the most conservative person running for this seat," Montoya said.

Alfred Glass, a Democrat, will challenge the winner of the Republican primary in District 1.

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and

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