Aztec, N.M. — Aztec political newcomer Roberta Clover was the only candidate in San Juan County to defeat an incumbent in the March 6 municipal election. The new Aztec City commissioner is close to completing her degree in criminal justice at the Highlands University Farmington Center.
Clover, 47, is a fourth-generation Aztec resident whose family settled there nearly 80 year ago. She is a longtime public servant, currently working as an administrative assistant in the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.
Clover is active in her community through the United Blood Services, Alzheimer’s Association, San Juan United Way, and Passion Play Ministries.
“I love Aztec, and I want to see our city thrive, not just survive,” Clover said. “I’m really uplifted and grateful that the citizens of Aztec put their trust in me.”
Clover said a big part of her campaign strategy was to go door-to-door and business-to-business; something that isn’t common in Aztec elections.
“I still believe in a good firm handshake — once you shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye you make a connection,” Clover said.
Scott Eckstein is a longtime San Juan County Commissioner who retired from the county’s Sheriff’s Office as a patrol sergeant in 2007. He’s familiar with Clover’s job performance at the county. She also graduated from the Leadership San Juan class of 2010.
“Roberta is a natural leader who sets the example that people want to follow,” Eckstein said. “One of her strengths is that she’s an independent thinker who makes informed decisions. At the same time, she works well as a team member.
“Roberta holds ethics and integrity dear, something we share. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with her as a fellow elected official. I believe she’ll serve the citizens of Aztec well,” Eckstein said.
When Clover talks about education her voice conveys fierce determination, a common theme in her life.
“After working for so many years in the Adult Detention Center, I wanted to formalize my education and polish my credentials,” said Clover. “The criminal justice professors at the Highlands Farmington Center are very knowledgeable and have extensive experience in the field. Being able to take classes at night after work is absolutely essential for non-traditional students like me,” Clover said.
“Roberta is an excellent straight-A student,” said Joan Lucero-Sisneros, director for the Highlands University Farmington Center. “I supervised her detention center practicum and her work was exceptional. She’s a positive role model to both traditional and nontraditional students.”
Clover said that her path to city commissioner has had some bumps in the road.
“I was a single mother working hard to make ends meet and living in subsidized housing so I could complete my associate’s degree,” Clover said. “My greatest accomplishment in life has been raising two sons who are hardworking, law abiding, contributing members of society. All the money in the world doesn’t matter if your kids are in prison and I was determined that my sons would not be statistics. Drew (Locke) is 28 and a staff sergeant with the U.S. Air Force. Jesse (Locke) is 26 and a successful sales manager in the securities industry.”
She said her family is very proud of her election victory, including her three grandchildren and husband, Ron Clover. The couple will celebrate their eight-year anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day.
Clover hopes her story of perseverance might inspire other women to never give up.
“It’s never too late to get your education and follow your dreams to reach your full potential,” Clover said.