Candidates Answer Community Questions At Forum


Candidates Answer Community Questions At Forum

Staff Report

This past Saturday evening eight of the nine candidates running for Española City Council faced off in a candidate forum jointly sponsored by the Valley Daily Post, It Takes A Valley (ITAV) and KDCE Radio at Northern New Mexico College.

Candidates introduced themselves to an audience made up of supporters and interested citizens and explaining why they are running. They then answered questions provided by the audience.

Several questions covering a variety of topics were asked but certain themes in the answers developed with candidates repeatedly returning to the themes of the region’s drug problems, police training, and programs for youth and seniors.  In all of these answers candidates talked about improving the image of Española internally and to the outside world.

District 1, incumbent Dennis Tim Salazar and challenger Joe Duran both demonstrated an extensive knowledge of city operations and also on several occasions both discussed the impact of drugs on the community. When asked about expanding treatment options Dennis Tim Salazar said, “Everybody in this community is affected by drugs, whether it is by family or friends, we all know people who are suffering. Treatment is the key.” Joe Duran acknowledged the impact drugs are having on the valley saying, “Addiction is a big problem in Española and the whole valley. But not just here, it’s all over the world.”

All candidates present supported the idea of building a residential detox center in the region.

District 2 candidates, incumbent Peggy Sue Martinez and challenger Richard R. Martinez talked about creating an effective council. Peggy Sue Martinez spoke about the effectiveness of the current council and several of the projects they are working on, saying “I’m happy to say the current council is probably the best governing body we’ve ever seen. The past two years have been very effective, moving the city forward in many areas”.

In some contrast, Richard R. Martinez said “The day we set aside our petty differences is the day we change Española.” Richard __ Martinez was excused from the forum at the halfway point because of him obligation as coach of the EVHS boys basketball team later that evening.

District 3 has three candidates running. Kenny Borrego and Christine Salazar both attended the forum while Manny Martinez sent a statement that he had to miss due to a previous religious commitment.

Kenny Borrego explained that he has been in business for over thirty years and wants to see the city improve its services to the people. He also felt his district was underrepresented on council.

Christine Salazar explained that ten years ago she was a city employee who witnessed inappropriate acts by city officials. She also added that her sister had been murdered several years ago and implied that inaction or intentional blindness by city officials allowed the perpetrator to go free for earlier infractions before he actually committed murder. Salazar said she vowed at that time to come back and serve.

District 4 candidates include incumbent Cory Lewis and former City Councilor Robert Seeds. When candidates were asked about reducing the impact of drugs on the community, Lewis said that the valley is in need of an in-patient treatment center since other detox facilities in Taos and Santa Fe have either closed or have long waiting lists. He also added that addressing the issue and how it impacts youth is important. Lewis said “Anything we can do for our youth is, we are a winner.”

Seeds concurred on the need for a detox center and said “we have to do it with partnering with our neighbors, the county and pueblos. Treatment is key.”

Another hot topic discussed was the proposal for Rio Arriba County to annex the portions of Española that are currently in Santa Fe County. This annexation would affect approximately 1000 residents of Española and seven of the eight candidates who participated in the forum expressed strong support for the idea, saying it would provide better service for those residents and that the change would increase funding to the local hospital for community services such as drug treatment.

Kenny Borrego, candidate for District 3 expressed tentative support but also said he would need to research the topic. Borrego said that he lives in Santa Fe County and has been involved in Santa Fe County politics. “Working with the leaders of Santa Fe County is a good way to get them to pay attention to our needs” Borrego said.

The sponsors of this candidate forum thank all candidates who participated and also thank them for stepping forward and volunteering to serve the community. Española municipal elections will be held on March 1.