Two women are seeking the office of Torrance County Treasurer: Republican and political newcomer Tracy Sedillo and Democrat and party officer Margarita Hibbs.
Sedillo has worked for the county for nearly three decades, while Hibbs is Chairwoman of the Torrance County Democrats.
Both are longtime residents of Estancia.
Tracy Sedillo went to work for Torrance County at age 18, and cited her experience with the county’s finances as her biggest asset in running for Treasurer.
“The current treasurer, Janice Barela, chose not to run because her husband is running for Senate. She asked me to run and I agreed to do that,” Sedillo said, adding that she had considered it previously when “the opportunity presented itself.”
Barela would continue in the office as Sedillo’s deputy if she is elected, Sedillo said.
“I’ve worked for the county for 28 years—I have the knowledge and the experience,” Sedillo said.
Sedillo spent 10 years as county comptroller, where she was responsible for preparing the budget, along with revenue projections.
“I’m very familiar with the grants,” Sedillo said. She was in charge of accounts payable and payroll, and has seen the county’s finances from both the money in and money out side of the story.
Most recently, Sedillo has worked in the Treasurer’s office as deputy.
Responsibilities of the office include sending out property tax bills and accounting for revenue coming in. “We’re responsible for all the revenue that comes in, and making sure it’s in the right fund,” Sedillo said.
Changes she would like to bring to the office include working to decrease the number of tax bills returned because the mailing address at the county is not current. “We have some [changes] that are already kind of rolling,” Sedillo said, including a person working exclusively on delinquent taxes and finding addresses.
“This tax season we’re going to have some satellite offices in the county,” she said, with stops in Encino, Mountainair and Moriarty “at least one day this tax season.” Sedillo said if the program is successful she would expand it.
The office is switching to a new credit card system which will make online payments easier and lower the convenience fees to the taxpayer, she said.
Asked if she has ever been convicted of a crime, Sedillo answered, “No.”
Asked what her strengths in office would be, she said, “My experience. I know how government works, and I know how the county works. I know the little processes so they don’t trip us up in everyday things. I know the job because I’m doing it every day. … I think we’re a really strong team.”
Margarita Hibbs has been chairwoman of the Torrance County Democratic Party, giving up the position to run for office. She is the former first lady of Estancia and ran for mayor of Estancia after her husband resigned due to health concerns.
“I’m running [for Torrance County Treasurer] because I believe that it’s important to be part of the solution to restoring trust in effective government,” Hibbs said.
Hibbs said she has three main priorities. Those are increased transparency in the office, improved communication between the treasurer and the county commission, and creating a culture of “collaboration and teamwork.”
Hibbs said part of her idea to help the public understand the county’s finances better would be to create diagrams showing where the county’s money comes from and where it is spent.
With funds coming from federal sources, state sources including capital outlay dollars, local property taxes and gross receipts taxes, some funds can only be spent for certain purposes, she explained. Hibbs said it would help people understand the budgeting process together if it were available in a graphic form.
She said she would add to “checks and balances” in the treasurer’s office by staying familiar with contracts the county has entered into, to “ensure that the foundation is solid, that the numbers are stable.”
Hibbs said that while the treasurer has no role in deciding how the county’s funds are spent, to “improve and increase communication between the treasurer’s office and the county commission” is her goal. “If in fact the current communication system is working… I think the question hangs there. Is the current system working? I think a lot of voters would disagree it’s been working.”
The treasurer’s office is “the most nonpartisan job” in the county, she said. “It’s strictly about this is the taxpayer money. It’s important to be really accountable for that and facilitate a better understanding of that.”
Hibbs said she has been “a community collaborative team worker” throughout her life. “It’s an accountability position and a numbers position. I’m not suggesting that the people now in office aren’t compassionate and kind—I think they are. But as a county we need to stop being so contentious with each other and start governing effectively in a non-combative fashion.”