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Randy Pacheco is running against John Beckstead for the District 5 seat on the San Juan County Commission

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Editor's note: The Daily Times is publishing stories over the span of three days that profile candidates running for local and state offices. We will focus only on contested races. Primary elections for New Mexico Republicans and Democrats will take place on June 7. Early voting ends June 4. Go to sjcclerk.net for a list of polling locations and hours. The winners of the primaries will compete in the general election on Nov. 8.

FARMINGTON — The two Republican candidates competing for the San Juan County Commission District 5 seat have similar platforms of promoting economic diversity and supporting small businesses.

Randy Pacheco, of Farmington, is running against Kirtland resident John Beckstead in the June 7 primary. The election should decide the race because there are no Democratic challengers registered to run in the Nov. 8 general election.

Pacheco, 47, is the former dean of the School of Energy at San Juan College and currently works as general manager at A-Plus Well Service. He said his decision to enter politics was prompted by a desire to continue serving the community after leaving his post at the college.

While traveling door-to-door during the campaign, Pacheco said he heard constituents express concerns over the closure of units at the San Juan Generating Station and Four Corners Power Plant, as well as layoffs in the oil and gas industry. Pacheco said the county needs to focus on attracting new businesses to provide economic alternatives.

"It’s not stepping away from oil and gas," he said. "But we have some very smart people in the community who can take advantage of new industries."

Beckstead, 39, is an assistant district attorney with the San Juan County District Attorney's Office and has deep family roots in the region. He said his great-grandfather founded General Supply, a farm and ranch store, in 1932. Beckstead said growing up around family-run retail business in downtown Farmington provided him a unique perspective on the needs of the community.

"We’re getting a few new businesses in the area," he said. "But we need to make to make ourselves more friendly."

A major concern Beckstead said he has heard from constituents involves the recent implementation of Ordinance 95, which requires businesses that must register with the state to also register with the county. He said when the ordinance was adopted earlier this year, it gave many people the impression that the county was not business-friendly.

"I'm not sure yet if the concerns are well-founded," he said. "But I enjoy listening to people's opinions."

He said that if he's elected and the ordinance proves to hurt local businesses, he would consider taking action against it.

The race marks the first foray into politics for both candidates. Pacheco has self-financed most of his campaign — loaning himself $1,000 and receiving $600 in contributions from three individual donors, according to finance reports.

Beckstead has received about $4,300 in contributions, according to campaign finance reports. The largest donation was $500 from the Farmington-based law firm Titus & Murphy.

The candidates are running to represent District 5, which includes parts of Farmington, Kirtland and northern areas along the La Plata River. The position is currently held by Keith Johns, who is not seeking re-election.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606. 

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