|On the edge of the plains|
I live in Colfax County, New Mexico. It and its immediate neighbor to the west, Taos County, was split off from Mora County to the south of me. The county comprises 3,768 square miles of which only 11 square miles is water. Much of the county, the part I live in, is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Most of the rest is prairie. The largest single city in Colfax County is Raton on the far east side of the state of New Mexico. Or about one and half to two hours drive from where I live.
Raton is the county seat. All district court houses are in Raton. If I get called for jury duty I have to make that drive twice a day because the county does not pay for overnight stays for jurors. And I have to drive to Raton to vote early tomorrow. Many of us have come to resent Raton.
The county seat was once Elizabeth Town which was a mining center. And then moved to Cimarron which I will pass through on the way to Raton. Cimarron is much more centrally located. And it once had a small district court office so if we needed to file liens to do other legal business we did not have to make the long haul. It was closed last year. And the county recently built a new court house in Raton instead of Cimarron. Bitter feelings were also cemented.
The population of Colfax county in the 2010 census was 13,750. Raton argues it is the largest city and ergo should be the county seat, however, its population has fallen 5.5% and in 2011 had only 6,829 residents. So less than half the county. Meanwhile us mountain folk have increased. But Raton maintains its dominance because of policies that make it difficult for us to vote or participate in county government. Guess where all county meetings are held? Guess where all county records are stored? But guess which side of the state provides the most property taxes? And gets the least services?
This alienation from our own county is increased because it is easier for us to shop in Taos or even Santa Fe. It actually only takes me about 10 minutes more to get to the city different. I could serve on Taos or Mora juries with less sacrifice of time and gas than I can Raton. But tomorrow I and a couple of friends are making the drive through the canyon and Cimarron and off across the plains to Raton to cast early ballots in this year's presidential election.
This morning I listened to analysis of how my vote will not count because only the swing states matter and to a point that nobody is even aware of the huge issues in the southwest. Water is one of those issues. And that we end up being the dumping ground for nuclear waste. I am acutely aware that Raton does not give a damn about half of its county. And now acutely aware that the United States doesn't give a damn about New Mexico. But I am going to vote anyway. Then I am going to work on changing elections in the United States through getting a constitutional convention called, and then seeing if we can split the mountains off from the plains in Colfax county.