Candidates for the Southeast New Mexico College (SENMC) Board of Trustees have been announced and Carlsbad-area residents will have a new elected body to vote on this November.
New Mexico State University Carlsbad began the process of transitioning to SENMC in July. The transition allows the community to regain control of the college by creating avenues for the college to be managed locally. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 212 during the 2021 regular legislative session, allowing the college to separate itself from the NMSU system.
Five district representatives will be elected to govern SENMC. The districts align with Carlsbad Municipal Schools. For example, voters within CMS District 1 will also be within SENMC District 1.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. The transition is expected to be completed by fall 2022.
Previous coverage:Southeast New Mexico College looking for board of trustees candidates
Cage is the sheriff of Eddy County and a retired Navy chief. He said he has background in training and education in the Navy and as a law enforcement instructor for almost 30 years.
Cage was appointed to Carlsbad Mayor’s Higher Education Task Force, which spearheaded the move from NMSU to an independent college.
“It’s very important to me that this endeavor is successful for our whole county and especially for Carlsbad,” Cage said. “I have been there from the beginning from the concept to the working group and now I want to move on to the board of trustees.”
Cage said his top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to ensure quality accredited education, a smooth transition and establish student housing. He said lack of dorms has been a critical downfall for the community’s service industry.
“Kids can’t come here to go to college,” Cage said. “So that’s key for me, having good and affordable living arrangements for students to stay and come from outside.
Doris Bruton Carlton
Carlton is a Malaga resident that graduated Carlsbad High School. She worked in education before becoming an lawyer for 25 years, but is now inactive. Carlton said she served in on the Carlsbad Municipal School board for eight years.
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“This college is going to have some growing pains,” Carlton said. “It’s going to be difficult for a short transitional period and I would like to be able to be on the forefront to be able to help.”
Carlton’s experience in education ranges from elementary school teacher to adjunct college professor at various universities throughout New Mexico.
Carlton said her top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to ensure a smooth transition to an independent college, keep the public informed, select a president, reinforce the nursing program and introduce athletics programs.
“New Mexico has a strong tradition of sports and it unifies a community, so I would like to see some athletics along with the academics,” Carlton said.
William Wilson Murrill
Murrill taught at NMSU-Carlsbad for 22 years and has a masters in industrial engineering. He is the co-owner of Murrill Electric and said the company was one of the first to offer apprenticeships in Carlsbad.
“I’ve always been interested in education,” Murrill said.
Murril said his first priority as a board member for SENMC will be to help set up vocational programs. He thinks the school should focus more on trades that allow people employed in Carlsbad’s main economic drivers such as oil, gas, mining and nuclear waste management.
Cherry Tiffany Frintz
Frintz is a family nurse practitioner and owner of Harmony Healing in Carlsbad. She is an alumna of NMSU Carlsbad’s nursing program. Frintz taught classes like anatomy and physiology within the program and worked as an intensive care nurse at the Carlsbad Medical Center for nine years.
“I was asked by several community members to run for this because I have a unique position from not only being a student at the college, but also being an instructor,” Frintz said.
Frintz said her top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be increasing teachers salaries, hiring a president and human resource director and growing the programs the college offers. She said she has experience managing finances as the owner of two businesses and plans to use that knowledge with the board.
“I have poured myself into this community and I feel like I can represent the community very well in this position,” Frintz said.
David Wilson Rogers
Rogers is the program director at Carlsbad LifeHouse, Inc. Villa de Esperanza and a pastor at the first Christian Church in Carlsbad. Rogers taught a variety of classes at NMSU Carlsbad including sociology, history, public speaking and communications, for eight years.
Rogers said he was excited to hear that the college would become independent and believes in the importance of community education.
“I was aware of a lot of the struggles they had under the NMSU banner, so when this came down and I saw that I had an opportunity to be a part of this new adventure I jumped at it,” Rogers said. “This is history in the making and my passion for that college is so strong I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Rogers said his top priorities as a board member will be fiscal responsibility, improving the college’s nursing program and empowering faculty. He explained that his experience and deep connection with the school along with leadership skills will allow him to serve the board.
Joy L. James-Foster
Foster is a media specialist tour and internal events coordinator for the Nuclear Waste
Partnership. She has a doctorate in theory, practice and policy studies, with a concentration in molecular and evolutionary biology from the University of Tennessee.
“I want to support and assist with spearheading the effort for our community college to take advantage of opportunities through potential aerospace courses that could offer students a chance to intern with companies such as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos that use our back yard as their launch pad,” Foster said.
Foster said her top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to help to ensure a smooth transition, offering competitive salaries to hire high quality staff and to ensure students have access to the latest cutting edge technology and resources.
“I have had an array of experiences in my previous career,” Foster said. “From helping to assist with strategic plans to observation of my own kids creating essential tools through Stem opportunities with a 3-D printer and plant-based research that was included on a moon mission. I feel that my experience makes me a viable candidate.”
Sarah Jo Bowman
Bowman is a family services coordinator at the CARC Early Intervention Program and has worked with the Carlsbad Community Anti-Drug/Gang Coalition as their Youth Media Program Assistant. She said her work with CARC has helped her understand the struggles educators face.
“I believe in the dreams of our students, and I want to do everything in my power to help them realize those dreams,” Bowman said. “We are on the precipice of an amazing educational opportunity for Carlsbad, and I am excited to bring my recruitment and media expertise to the table to build a strong foundation for the college.”
Bowman said her top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to hear directly from students, faculty, and administration and create a sound organizational foundation for the college.
Fran A. McCarthy
McCarthy is a retired principal for CMS and has worked in education for 30 years. She moved to Carlsbad in 2002 and was appointed principal of Loving High School in 2004.
“I threw my hat in the ring because I have a background in education,” McCarthy said. “I just think it’s important that we give back to our community.”
McCarthy said her top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to encourage communication and collaboration between the community and the college, offering scholarships, online classes and student housing.
“I would also like to see a hub for students to be able to go to locally. I think that that par is going to have to be a piece of housing development that we look at down the road,” McCarthy said. “Whether it’s a dorm or a set of apartments that are built, and the students that live there can walk to the campus.”
McCarthy said her goal is to see the college continue to offer degrees that allow students to stay in the community after graduation.
Norbert T. Rempe
Rempe is a retired geologist that has taken classes and taught at the college. Rempe said he has lived in Carlsbad for over 40 years and has worked in the potash, oil and mining industries and at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
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“I think I can provide some useful input based on my experience as both a student and a teacher out there,” Rempe said.
Rempe said he want to ensure tax dollars are being used wisely as a board member. He said can contribute to the college with his experience in education and the main industries in Carlsbad.
Ned Z. Elkins
Elkins was born and raised in Carlsbad. He worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory and retired after 21 years. Before that he worked at WIPP. Elkins said he has doctorates in civil engineering and fluid mechanics.
“Given my background, my love for the community, more importantly my passion for education and experience in higher education I felt it was the right thing to do to put my name in, and see if I could step up and help this community,” Elkins said.
Elkins said his top priorities as a board member for SENMC will be to establish good fundamental policies the community understands, create a sound fiscal start for the college and establish opportunities for students to stay in the community.
“Its important for me to have that kind of a school up here for kids to be able to pursue education and yet continue their careers here in Carlsbad without having to leave,” Elkins said.
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at (575) 628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.