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Republican Patricia S. “Susie” Kimble is making her first bid for elective office as she challenges incumbent Democrat Shannon Reynolds for the District 3 seat on the Doña Ana County Commission in the Nov. 8 general election.
Kimball, who has lived in Las Cruces since 1986, said her nearly 20 years’ experience in behavioral health care would be an asset to the commission, especially as it considers how to spend millions of dollars the county received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Kimble has been a member of the Governor’s Behavioral Health Planning Council since 2005. The council advises the governor, legislature and state Behavioral Health Collaborative.
Kimble was appointed to the council by Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and re-appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, and Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Kimble is also president of the New America School of Las Cruces Governing Council.
Kimble wants to “help make the right decisions” for the county Triage Crisis Center (CTC) so it can “do the best for the most people.”
CTC has served about 1,000 voluntary clients since it opened in 2021, Kimble said, but is underutilized.
Kimble said she would like to see state law changed to allow CTC to accept involuntary clients and to extend clients’ maximum stay from the current 23 hours to two weeks. Kimble said she would also like to see CTC expand its community partnerships and work with insurance carriers so services can be covered by Medicare and private insurance. Currently, its only funding sources are the county and Medicaid.
“There are several more steps that need to be done,” Kimble said.
Kimble said she has been talking to voters throughout the district, which will include parts of the City of Las Cruces and the unincorporated communities of Chaparral and Vado, along with residents of other unincorporated parts of the county, when newly redrawn county commission districts become effective Jan. 1.
Chaparral residents “feel really neglected,” Kimble said.
Chaparral, which straddles Doña Ana and Otero counties, has an estimated 30,000 residents and lacks adequate law enforcement and infrastructure, she said.
Kimble supports making Chaparral its own county. That makes more sense than incorporating as a city, she said, because, as a county, it could collect both gross receipts taxes and property taxes.
The most recent model for creating a county in New Mexico, Kimble said, is Cibola County, which was carved out of Valencia County in 1981. Los Alamos County which was created in 1949 and has “both county and municipal authority and powers,” according to www.nmcounties.org/counties/los-alamos-county, could be another model, she said.
Colonias -- unincorporated, low-income communities in the county -- also have been neglected, she said.
“There is so much more need in those unincorporated areas,” Kimble said.
There also needs to be better fire and ambulance service and better roads in the southern part of the county, she said, where flood control projects need to be completed.
“You want everybody to succeed,” Kimble said.
“My main priority for Doña Ana County is fiscal responsibility for the $330 million annual budget to ensure that the needs of county residents are met,” Kimble said on her campaign website.
Kimble said she also is concerned county officials sometimes are not as responsive to the needs of residents as they should be, and don’t always keep them apprised of what the county is doing.
Kimble said the county should also “make it easier for businesses to succeed,” to create more jobs and more revenue to help county residents.
The county commission needs a Republican member (all five current members are Democrats) for better balance, Kimble said.
“I’m not a far-right, scary kind of Republican,” she said.
Former Republican County Commissioner Ben Rawson ‘was a great commissioner,” Kimble said. “I want to be like him.”
If elected, Kimble said, her door will be open to all county residents.
“Come and talk to me, if you’re in my district or not,” she said.
“I want to try and make a difference,” Kimble said.
Kimble and her husband, Dave (a former county GOP chair) have two grown children and a granddaughter.