Jack Fortner will serve as commission chairman pro-tem

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FARMINGTON — San Juan County Commission chairwoman Margaret McDaniel says county officials are cautiously optimistic about the local economy as 2018 begins.

McDaniel was chosen to be the chairwoman of the County Commission during its meeting this week in Aztec, replacing Jack Fortner. Fortner will serve as commission chairman pro-tem, a position that McDaniel held last year.

McDaniel, who represents District 2, was chosen as chairwoman through a commission vote. District 2 covers Navajo Dam, Blanco, Upper Fruitland, West Hammon, Huerfano, and southern portions of Crouch Mesa and Farmington, as well as several Navajo Nation chapters. The seat is up for election this year, but McDaniel will not be running for re-election because she has reached her two-term limit. McDaniel was first elected to the commission in 2010.

"We will remain focused on maintaining and protecting our tax base by continuing to create an environment that is business friendly," McDaniel said via text message to The Daily Times when asked about the county's future. "We are actively meeting with diverse industries to bring potential means of new economic opportunities to the county." 

She said the county is working to help companies create and attract new jobs while protecting the resources located in the county.

One of the resources McDaniel highlighted was the San Juan Generating Station, which the Public Service Company of New Mexico, the facility's majority owner, has indicated could close in 2022. McDaniel said the county will continue to work with PNM on legislation that seeks a scenario that would keep the plant open. 

McDaniel said the county is a diverse area spanning more than 5,500 square miles with a population of more than 130,000 people. She said the county also maintains more than 750 miles of roads.

She said the county is committed to cutting expenses without cutting jobs or services.

"As I begin my tenure as chair, I am committed to ensuring that we continue to address the needs of the citizens that we serve," McDaniel said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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