New GOP chair tackles challenges in Democrat-majority county

New GOP chair tackles challenges in Democrat-majority county

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Roman Jimenez and his family. Photo courtesy of Roman Jimenez.
New Doña Ana County Republican Party Chairman Roman Jimenez and his family. Photo courtesy of Roman Jimenez.

By MIKE COOK

Las Cruces Bulletin

Roman Jimenez, the new Doña Ana County Republican Party chairman, supports President Donald Trump and is a fan of Martin Luther King Jr.

Trump is “somebody with good intentions,” Jimenez said. “He doesn’t have any ties or (owe) any favors to any politicians.” Trump has “emboldened people to speak their minds a little bit more.”

King, a civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968, was “one of the greatest men who ever lived,” Jimenez said. “He fought for what was right, even to his own peril.”

Locally, Jimenez leads a party that holds only one position in county government and one seat in the county legislative delegation.

“I just felt it was a good opportunity to get involved,” said Jimenez, a retired New Mexico State police officer and a newcomer to politics. In the GOP county-chair election, Jimenez defeated William Webb, the same man Jimenez lost to last June in the Republican primary for the District 4 seat on the county commission.

As chairman, Jimenez said he is “looking at those different areas that need to be addressed” – the “meat and potatoes” of the party – and plans to actively recruit people to “step up and run” for local offices. Jimenez said part of his job also is “conveying the message about the values of our party.”

Those values include a “stand for basic liberties,” free enterprise and small government, Jimenez said. The party should “always strive for human rights and human liberties.”

Government officials are often frustrating because they “try to outline what’s best for you; (they) become smarter than everybody else,” he said.

Jimenez grew up in a family of Democrats in Santa Fe. “The things I saw … hit home. We didn’t seem to really be getting anywhere,” he said, including Hispanics and other minorities.

There was too much dependence on government, and for the children of the people he grew up with, there still is, Jimenez said.

“Plus, I’m a Christian,” he said, and the Republican Party “seems to be more in line with my own Christian beliefs.”

Jimenez said local Democrats were “pretty well organized” during the 2016 election, and Republican candidates were also hurt because voters were “obviously unhappy with the choices” for president and “a lot of people didn’t vote,” he said.

“People are tired of politics,” Jimenez said. “They want somebody to tell it like it is, who isn’t bought and paid for by special interest groups.”

Jimenez said power and control corrupt people, he said, and politicians aren’t exempt from that.

The first priority of career politicians is “self-preservation and keeping donors happy,” he said.

“That’s what’s brought us to where we are now.” Jimenez expressed frustration with politicians’ unwillingness to cooperate or compromise in a constructive manner. “People have their agendas and ideas. When their mind is made up, what hope is there?”

The most important issues facing the New Mexico Legislature, he said, are growing the state’s economy and creating jobs. Oil and gas production continues to decline, he said, and “it’s sad that’s the only thing we have to depend on.”

“Politicians always want to control how to make it better,” Jimenez said. “What if we just got out of the way, let people do what they do?”

Construction companies, for example, are “crippled by regulations and by laws. They could grow the economy on their own,” he said, because they are “people who know what they’re doing.”

State government has created “this monster that now needs all these engineers to run it,” Jimenez said. “Do you remove parts of the machine, or do you keep managing it? Let’s get down to the bare essentials. Let’s quit feeding the machine. There has to be a more efficient way to do things.”

Jimenez predicted the “hard choices will not be made” this legislative session because “politicians are worried about the next election.”

Jimenez “absolutely” supports term limits for elected officials. “I think that’s important,” he said. The alternative is “absolute power and no accountability.”

Jimenez also supports Trump’s plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “I think it’s a good idea (to block the) ravages of drugs and criminals,” he said. “If we can curb those types of things and get them under control, I think that’s only a positive.”

“How do we help people, but how do we help Americans and America and get them on their feet before we help others?” Jimenez said.

Locally, he said, the Las Cruces City Council is “telling the business community, ‘This is what you need to do because, trust me, it’s going to work.’ It’s not going to work.”

The council’s support for increasing the local minimum wage hurt local business, he said, and amounts to “political elitism – politicians telling folks what’s going to work best.”

At the county level, the county commission recently enacted a new unified development code that tells people “how and what they can build on their property,” and how it should be irrigated and zoned, he said.

Jimenez also thinks “we cripple ourselves by talking too much about race, our backgrounds, our history. We’ve all dealt with oppression at some point. I think it’s time to put the race thing aside and do what’s best for people.”

As the county GOP leader, Jimenez said, “it’s important to me to figure out a way to re-engage the person who feels he’s not able to speak openly about how he feels. How do we do things better to make the quality of life better for people? Let’s do what makes sense.”

He retired from the New Mexico State Police Department in 2015 after 22 years of service and now works as a private investigator for a local security firm. He and his wife, Neoma, have two children, a son, Christian, who lives in Kansas City and is taking online classes at New Mexico State University, and a daughter, Talia, who is attending Doña Ana Community College.

Contact Jimenez at chairmandacrp@gmail.com.

“I would love to hear from people,” he said.

Mike Cook can be reached at goodguymwc@q.com.

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