Campbell, A Seasoned Politician & Office Holder, Wants to Build on First-Term Accomplishments
By Tony A. Archuleta
Alvin Campbell, who is seeking a second, four-year term as District 3 County Commissioner, is a political veteran who has held public office first in Bernalillo County and now in Sierra County.
The term “incumbent” doesn’t exactly inspire elation in some higher political circles, but when it comes to the local electorate, it can be political gold.
Rare is the local office holder who loses a bid for reelection simply on a whim of the electorate, especially when it comes to a second, consecutive term.
The good news for Campbell this 2012 election cycle is that no Democrat filed for the commission seat, but he’s been forced to hit the campaign trail anyway ahead of the June 5 primary election (early voting is ongoing at the County Clerk’s Office), as fellow Republican Frances Luna has emerged as a challenger.
The race between the 73-year-old Campbell and the 30-year-old Luna adds some intrigue to an otherwise quiet primary season at the county level.
As an incumbent who has established himself as both a respected businessman and politician locally, Campbell arguably is the favorite in this race – especially since the Republican party alone will decide the outcome – but the wildcard is Luna’s own abilities as a vote-getter.
As a political newcomer in 2010, Luna won a seat in a non-partisan election on the Truth or Consequences City Commission as a write-in candidate. It was an impressive political achievement by any measure, but Campbell has also proven himself a capable politician and office holder.
Campbell – who along with his wife, Gretchen, owns and operates Desert Lakes Realty in Elephant Butte – was appointed Bernalillo County Sheriff in the early 1980s and was elected to two more terms as the metropolitan county’s top law enforcement officer.
Campbell also retired from Albuquerque Police Department as deputy chief after 20 years of service.
He was appointed Sierra County probate judge in 2004, filling out the term of a judge who resigned from office to run for another county office. He did not seek election to the judgeship once he fulfilled his initial obligation.
In 2008, Campbell ran for and won his current commission seat, defeating Leonardo Rivera in the Republican primary and beating Democrat Richard Daves in the general election.
In his reelection bid, Campbell touts “three and a half years experience as commissioner, and many years experience in city and county government, lots of exposure in Santa Fe around political circles, and I believe I have demonstrated an ability to conduct county business on a non-partisan level – without taking sides, and avoiding ethical issues.”
During an interview for this article, Campbell was quick to focus on his and the commission’s own achievements, and no one can argue that the county has enjoyed a smooth run under the leadership of the current commission and seven-year County Manager Jan Carrejo.
Campbell points to a long list of accomplishments during his current term, from the completion of the Sierra County Events Center, the construction of the Poverty Creek and Cuchillo fire stations, getting the Sierra Vista Hospital renovation project on track, increasing county employee pay/benefits, to positioning county finances to build a central administrative complex.
It will be up to Republican voters alone to weigh Campbell’s work on the county commission against Luna’s performance as city commissioner (Luna resigned her commission seat in December 2011 due to a move outside the incorporated city limits), but for political observers in general, the compelling storyline is Campbell’s take on his opponent’s political credentials.