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Andrew Ostic challenges Amanda López Askin for Doña Ana County Clerk in primary


Incumbent Amanda López Askin (left) is looking to fend off a challenger, a former clerk’s office employee who also challenged her in 2020, in the race to be county clerk of Doña Ana County. Andrew Ostic (right), currently a Telstar Networks manager, entered the race in March. Ostic and López Askin will face republican challenger Cheryl De Young in the November general election.
The winner holds an office pivotal in the management of democratic procedures. The clerk’s office oversees all elections in Doña Ana County. And as fake conspiracies about election fraud have become common talking points, the public has brought renewed focus on the office. 

The clerk’s office also records and stores resolutions, ordinances, deeds, and marriage licenses. The office also issues several types of permits and licenses and serves as the clerk of the probate court in handling informational proceedings.

Ostic and López Askin answered questions from the Las Cruces Bulletin about how they see the office. The questions were derived from a survey of more than 100 Bulletin readers. 

The candidates' answers were submitted via email. The only edits included those for style and grammar. 

What is the biggest issue facing the County Clerk's Office?

López Askin: Choosing one issue is a challenge.  Compliance with our statutory requirements will always take precedence in our work. A common misconception about the office is that our only responsibility is elections. Elections may be the most high-profile responsibility we have, but we have a robust recording side of our office. They offer vital services to our business community, including issuing marriage licenses, managing liens and titles and recording documents for the community. Additionally, the county clerk’s office has a three-million-dollar budget, 37 full-time employees and hundreds of election officials. 

Our office also has an obligation to the community to work with other county departments and elected officials to provide our essential services. The individual who holds the County Clerk position must have the ability to be an administrator for the office – budget, personnel, policies, collaboration — and support both areas of focus we are responsible for in state statute.

Ostic: The biggest issue facing the County Clerk’s Office is low voter turnout and inadequate voter education.  There is a lack of community engagement throughout Doña Ana County.

How would you combat misinformation around elections in Doña Ana County?

Ostic: Provide regular, organized and thorough opportunities for voters to have hands-on voting experiences through community engagement.  Enhance awareness of the County Clerk's Office's role in serving the public. 

López Askin: Misinformation and malinformation continue to be one of the largest challenges our office has connected to elections. In 2018, Doña Ana County was involved in a very high-profile, nationally scrutinized election. The crux was the delay in results as our voters voted through absentee in higher numbers than they ever had before. There was no litigation regarding the validity of the election. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I have been dealing with election deniers and extremists since I started in this position. Initially, I ignored much of it, but in the last several years, I have made a point to combat misinformation and malinformation whenever possible, including during our county commission meetings, on our office’s podcast and during community presentations. 

I speak openly about the election process, I address some of their extreme rhetoric head on, and I encourage the public to ask questions; I’m even quoted in the Albuquerque Journal as saying, “The more eyes on the election, the better.” Meeting misinformation with facts and data from unbiased sources is one of our most powerful and helpful tools when navigating this challenge.

What steps would you take to ensure clerk staff are safe and competent?

López Askin: Since I have been in office, I have worked diligently to make sure our office is fully staffed and supported.  Navigating bureaucracy and budgetary constraints was and will continue to be a challenge for anyone who is in the Clerk’s position. I have advocated for and was able to secure a front office remodel, which supports the safety and wellbeing of staff and customers. I have also supported and facilitated staff training, which includes topics focused on specific statutes for which the clerk’s office is responsible.  I have enthusiastically sponsored conferences and legislative attendance for staff professional development.  

All of these support the administration, professional development, and protection of our staff. We have been able to offer more experiential and accessible training that includes access to training videos created by our office. I have implemented a post-election debrief where we specifically address both positives and negatives from each polling location in order to confirm best practices and implementation of the law.  If there is a problem, it is addressed. It should be noted that I actively participated in supporting Senate Bill 43, making numerous trips to Santa Fe to testify and advocate in person in support of this bill. This bill specifically expanded protection for election officials and was signed into law in 2023.

Ostic: Regularly initiate and review job performance to identify the level of competency in identifying needed training. Provide clerk staff with the opportunity to participate in performance development plans where they can give their input on job assignments, standards and training necessary to meet or exceed expectations. Staff participation in the process of planning development and periodic review gives them the assurance they need. When there is a safety concern, a record of incident reports should be utilized to assess what factors are needed to prevent any threats to safety.  

Do you believe there was fraud in the 2020 election? 

Ostic: I do not believe there was fraud in the 2020 election.  However, there was failure to provide information to interested parties. If an explanation is not supported by mandated state election code about where to refer person or persons for answers, then suspicion and mistrust are the results, which causes a proliferation of unfounded conspiracy theories.

López Askin: No, I do not. Despite the narrative of claims of fraud, there has been no evidence to support any widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Additionally, almost all litigation claiming so has shown no proof.  However, should any concerned individual have specific information about any potential voter fraud, they should immediately report it to authorities for investigation.  

candidates, Doña Ana County Clerk, Amanda López Askin, Andrew Ostic