City Commission candidates sound off

Candidates

The following is a Q&A with the candidates who will appear on the March 1 municipal election ballot for the position of Tucumcari City Commissioner in Districts 1 and 2.

(Editor’s note: Ruth Ann Litchfield is running unopposed for the District 3 Commission seat. She was submitted Q&A answers in the event of a write in candidate. No candidate filed as a write-in and Litchfield’s answers will not be printed.)

The Q&As are arranged by district and the candidates’ order on the ballot.

District 1 Candidates

Name: Rick Haymaker

Q: Why do you want to be City Commissioner?
A: I wish to continue on the commission because I care deeply for Tucumcari and its citizens and am excited about its future. This city has a very good staff at City Hall, a City Clerk who is quite knowledgeable, very helpful, and of an excellent spirit, a city manager who is honest, firm and caring, a mayor who is friendly, knows the issues, Tucumcari’s people and its history, a commission that is harmonious, respectful to one another and not prejudiced in the least, and city employees who work hard to help our town be the best it can be.

Q: What strengths and experience (personal/professional) do you feel you will bring to the commission should you be elected?
A:  My strength is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. My experience is I am now serving as City Commissioner and am current on all issues facing the city at this time. I come from the Washington D.C. area of Northern Virginia where racial diversity is a way of life. My mother and my grandmother were both foster parents so I learned at an early age to share with the stranger and care for the orphan of different races. I have no grievances, axes to grind or past prejudices toward any person. I bring the discipline of six years in the military, 27 years of faithful service to the federal government, a good working relationship with the city manager, mayor, commission, state representatives, police department, Mesalands Community College, economic development, Housing authority and Mainstreet, both local and state. I serve as vice president on the Tucumcari Arts & Cultural Council of Tourism board, vice president of the Eastern NM Arts and Cultural Center board, and vice president of the Rawhide Days board. I am a member of the Tucumcari Historic Museum, business owner and children’s music teacher. I meet with 12 churches for three hours weekly, including Saint Anne’s Catholic Church, to pray for our president, our governor, our senators and representatives, Tucumcari, Logan, Nara Visa and San Jon.

Q: What priorities for your district would you want to address as commissioner?
A: Priorities that I have already addressed and am currently addressing as commissioner are as follows. I keep a close eye and make safety corrections when notified by citizens at the Grace Madrid Northside Park, support the city manager’s efforts of improvements to the Del Norte Community Center,  approved funding for the Tucumcari Cheese Factory expansion to double its workforce and production, and setting up the presentation for Gov. (Susana) Martinez’s address at the same location, approved funding for the repair for the roof on the Odeon Theater,  worked with the commission and City Manager in the demolition and removal of the Sands Dorsey building and plans of putting a performing arts pavilion in its place, working with local and state Mainstreet for the planned renovation of the Princess Theater and maintenance of the railroad depot as well as announcer of the Fired Up Festival, approved the ABC license for the Knights of Columbus, and met with producers and helped assure the safety of crew and citizens and communication between them and the City Manager during movie filming in the downtown area all in District 1. We are working towards the resurfacing of 2nd Street from Main Street to Rt. 66. I would like to make sure that any needed repairs and renovations are completed as well as other infrastructural improvements,  and that growth and appearance continue to improve in District 1.

Q: What do you feel the commission needs to focus on for Tucumcari and its residents?
A:  The three main objectives we are currently working on:

1. Infrastructural upgrade and repair – with the reallocation of the Ute Lake Water tax;

2. Appearance and safety – With the nuisance ordinance
3. Qualified workforce and economy – with the ACT workforce readiness program in cooperation with Mesalands Community College.
I believe focused unified implementation of these items will move Tucumcari forward into a successful future and will grow this city.

Q: What can city government do, that is not doing now, to make Tucumcari more business friendly?
A: The city is not currently able to meet the infrastructure needs of larger businesses, factories, etc. As the federal government — for various reasons — has had to cut back its support of the states, the states in turn nationwide are having to cut back on their contribution to municipalities leaving it to the towns to come up with creative alternatives. After much careful study and consideration, I believe the best idea we’ve come up with is to ask the citizens for permission to reallocate the Ute Lake Water Tax to help with things such as infrastructural needs that these businesses will require. I want to make it clear to the citizens of Tucumcari that it is not a new tax. It is simply making the best use, we feel, of a tax they are already paying.  This will not affect the $1.9 million that is currently in that fund. It will remain for any future need concerning Ute Lake water only. My hope is that the citizens of Tucumcari will agree that this is the best course of action and that those in District 1 will see fit to keep me on as commissioner.

Name: Ralph Moya

Q: Why do you want to be City Commissioner?
A: I am running at this time because I feel there is a need for leadership at City Hall as we have seen the City of Tucumcari deteriorate with regard to available jobs and the infrastructure. Tucumcari needs someone who can promote needed industry that will bring jobs, maintain our streets, rebuild our city, as well as support the existing businesses.

Q: What strengths and experience (personal/professional) do you feel you will bring to the commission should you be elected?
A: For eight years I served as mayor of Tucumcari and another eight years as a city councilman. I was instrumental in implementing major work in the infrastructure of the utilities of the City of Tucumcari. This included updating our treatment plants and securing adequate water supply for the area. During my administration we brought several industries into the community of Tucumcari. This included trucking firms, an ethanol production plant and increased the tourist industry. As Mayor of the City of Tucumcari I gained great knowledge in understanding of the necessity of the promotion of general obligation bonds, industrial bonds and the utilization of CDBG grants and other sources of funding in order to lessen taxpayer burden for municipal operations.

Q: What priorities for your district would you want to address as commissioner?
A:  Tucumcari needs someone with a positive attitude who can turn the conversation among residents from “who is leaving town, what business is closing and how many people have moved out” to one of optimistic outlooks regarding the future of our City. From the last year I served to the present about 30 percent or more of the population has moved out. Revitalization is not only physical but psychological. I ask for your support and welcome any questions or comments regarding my candidacy.

Q: What do you feel the commission needs to focus on for Tucumcari and its residents?
A: My priorities are unemployment ,bring in new industry that is realistic with our present work force, revitalization of the community, and lack of   services. Another issue that needs to be addressed is healthcare. It has come to my attention that many of our residents are going out of town for some of their healthcare needs. For example there is only one dentist in Tucumcari and one dentist can’t meet all our needs. Another issue is to help our residents who need innovative drug and alcohol dependence treatment who are currently having to go out of town for this treatment. There are many other issues that are currently not being addressed. For example, we need to work with our local community college in helping develop training skills needed for residents to gain proper employment within the community. By doing these things we would learn to work together with our current resources rather than an attitude of “every man for himself.”

Q: What can city government do, that is not doing now, to make Tucumcari more business friendly?
A: Tucumcari needs to figure out what we are doing wrong in order to make the necessary changes. In order to attract new business opportunities that will bring jobs and revenue into our community we need to be welcoming to new residents who will have fresh ideas and needed capabilities in order for a new business to succeed. Unfortunately, at the present time there is a perception that Tucumcari is not business friendly. The cost of doing business in Tucumcari will require  a complete renovation of the existing infrastructure including utilities, roads and facilities. Tucumcari needs to focus on industry that will give jobs to its current residents and that would be willing to train our citizens to become viable workers in that industry. An example of this would be cottage industries where locals begin new business and provide jobs to residents. For example if an organization wants to use our convention center for a particular event that would bring in hundreds of dollars to the community in the form of revenue to hotels, motels, restaurants, etc., as well as lodgers’ taxes they need to be met with helpful supportive ideas to help this concept be made manifest. It has been reported to me that certain organizations have been confronted with how much it’s going to cost and no encouraging support or helpful ideas as to how to secure the convention. This has caused these organizations to move on to another community and Tucumcari lost out.

District 2 Candidates

Name: Jonathan Brito

Q: Why do you want to be City Commissioner?
A: The reason why I would like to be commissioner is because I want step up and speak for the city of Tucumcari. Also to contribute my ideas along with the other commissioners and the city manager to help Tucumcari grow and move forward in the right direction such as looking at solutions on how to get more jobs in the city as well as supporting current businesses and organizations that we have in our community. Also because I feel that District 2 needs the representation that can closely look and study the issues not only that District 2 has but also in the community.

Q: What strengths and experience (personal/professional) do you feel you will bring to the commission should you be elected?
A: The strengths and experiences that I feel that I would bring to the commission if Iam elected would be that I am very active with community events for some organizations where I have met a lot of citizens that know that I can do an have faith in me when I work or push for a project and understand if what they suggested falls through. Also me being single with no kids I am able to concentrate and focus on taking calls from constituents with complaints and concerns. Also holding office at the VFW post 2528 as the men’s auxiliary president and holding manager positions with the local grocery store, with the church for bingo as well as the Knights of Columbus bingo. The most important thing is having good communications skills and having a positive attitude toward people.

Q: What priorities for your district would you want to address as commissioner?
A: Some of the priorities that needs to be addressed in my district would be finding the funding to fix some of the streets that are in desperate need of repairing, getting rid of the burned garages that have been there for more than five years and giving options for helping the citizens to find help to throw them down. Not everyone has the funds to hire someone to throw there burned buildings down.
Q: What do you feel the commission needs to focus on for Tucumcari and its residents?
A: The thing that the commission needs to focus on for Tucumcari and its residents is bringing more jobs for people and more variety of stores for people to shop at. Most citizens don’t shop here because the high prices. Also from experience with working with troubled kids there is nothing for the younger children to do here. They get bored and they get in involved in things or start committing crimes. The commission needs to work together to find or build recreation for families. Citizens take their families to other towns to have fun. Why do they need to leave to have fun when we can have a weekend or nightly family activities here?

Q: What can city government do, that is not doing now, to make Tucumcari more business friendly?
A: What Tucumcari can do to become more business friendly is bring a variety of stores so that way the citizens don’t have to spend their money out of town. Help promote the businesses with a good and positive attitude, make sure that building are clear of weeds and trash. Go and look for business because they don’t come and look for us as well as get the citizens opinions.

Name: Amy Gutierrez

Q: Why do you want to be City Commissioner?
A: The reason I am seeking re-election for District 2 is I feel that in the past two years I have been helpful in making positive change to our community. I have been a part of a great commission and I would like to continue to work with them and see positive changes made during that time. Tucumcari is my home and seeing the town dwindle away and hearing all the negativity is very disheartening. If during my time as a commissioner we can make positive changes and see growth then I succeeded at my job.

Q: What strengths and experience (personal/professional) do you feel you will bring to the commission should you be elected?
A: My dedication and willingness to work hard are great assets and would continue to benefit our community.  Putting in extra hours and being involved in different areas within the community have never been a problem for me. I will continue to do what I believe is right, keeping the citizens best interest in mind while doing so.

Q: What priorities for your district would you want to address as commissioner?
A: As a commissioner I do not believe that my priority only lies in my district.  Tucumcari as a whole is my responsibility as is for the rest of the commission. We focus on the things that need change and to be addressed by importance. We would like to do so much but as we all know we can only do what we can when we are able to secure funding. Growth is vital for Tucumcari and to grow we must appeal to the businesses who may want to come here. This in turn would draw new families or even those who left when job market started diminishing.

Q: What do you feel the commission needs to focus on for Tucumcari and its residents?
A: I think we have a lot of things that need to be addressed but funding is an important issue so in time we will have things addressed. Many complaints are the road conditions which are being taken care of. It will not be easy or done overnight but in time repairs will be completed and once they have been repaired and regular maintenance is performed then they should not get to the condition they are in again. The appearance of the city is a huge problem and we have recently revised the Nuisance Ordinance which is forcing property owners to clean the areas. It has caused some resistance but at the same time has been received well by others. If we can beautify our community then I firmly believe it will allow for growth as potential new business will come and create jobs which in turn will bring more families.

Q: What can city government do, that is not doing now, to make Tucumcari more business friendly?
A: We can always do more, not only the city government but the citizens as well. Tucumcari has to be more pleasing to the eye and as it currently stands it isn’t. Yes we have made strides to improve but we have a long way to go.  We welcome the citizens of our community to give their input and suggestions. Keeping in mind that it takes time, we didn’t get here overnight and we won’t see change overnight either.

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