The chairman of the Taos County Board of Commissioners, Jim Fambro, is running for a second term in the upcoming Democratic primaries.
Fambro was first elected to public office in 2014 to represent the residents of District 1, which is one of the smallest of the county's five districts. Fambro's district includes much of the town of Taos. (An interactive commission map is linked in this story online).
Fambro won his last primary election with 71 percent of the vote against Sarah Medina Martinez. He took over from then-commissioner Dan Barrone, now the town mayor. This primary, Fambro faces Daniel Cordova, brother of former Taos mayor Darren Cordova.
Fambro's professional and familial connection to the town is stronger than other sitting commissioners. His wife is the town finance director.
Before getting into Taos' political scene, Fambro worked in the town fire department for 24 years and put in another decade of volunteering with the close community of fire fighters, he said. Since 2010 he has been an alternate municipal judge in Taos. He's also a longtime coach, administrator and volunteer for various youth sports in Taos, including Little League and high school golf.
No doubt, fire is Fambro's passion. He praises the county's EMS and fire directors and efforts to unify and standardize certain elements of the county's 13 volunteer fire stations. Although some of the stations are dilapidated, the county has seen a flurry of recent budget allocations to replace or build new stations.
Fambro sees constructing the firehouses as one leg of an effort to improve the county's facilities. Also on that list is the Los Cordovas Bridge, which will be reconstructed this summer; the soon-to-be-reopened Amalia Senior Center; and the Old County Courthouse on the Plaza, which might finally see some state money in 2018, he said.
In the last several years, commissioners have often voted unanimously. "All five [of us] pledged to each other we'd work as a unit," Fambro said, noting their cohesion was somewhat firmed up in a code of ethics signed in 2016. "We're a pretty good working team," he said.
That hasn't always been the case, especially with high-profile votes like the Top of the World water rights transfer. The county opted to fight it in court, but Commissioner Tom Blankenhorn voted against doing so. Nor were they unified at the start of 2018 when Fambro was made the chair of the public body for a third year. He cast the deciding vote in his own appointment and in blocking fellow commissioner Candyce O'Donnell from assuming the vice-chair position.
Looking ahead, Fambro wants to do something to support the small mutual domestic water systems. That could mean creating a financially self-sustaining water department within the county government, he said. Having someone on hand to make minor repairs and do routine maintenance are meaningful ways to avert the water emergencies as the town of Taos has faced this month and Questa struggled with in 2016. With independent water systems reliant on volunteer boards struggling to attract young blood, "The only answer, I think, is for us to start getting involved."
- Cody Hooks