Mayoral Candidates Highlight Experience And Skills At Forum

by Staff Reporter / Mar 02, 2018 / comments

Mayoral Candidates Highlight Experience And Skills At Forum

By ROBERT NARANJO

Northern NM College President, Dr. Richard Bailey, welcomed a good size crowd at the Nick Salazar Performing Arts Center located on campus to a mayoral candidate forum sponsored by the Española Valley Chamber of Commerce. Bailey welcomed the participants, saying he wanted a “safe place for the candidates.” Bailey singled out Roger Montoya of Moving Arts Española “for all he does for the area’s youth and for helping to bring the forum to fruition”. Bailey said he was “grateful for the three candidates to step up” to take on public safety and a myriad of issues the eventual winner will face. He added that the college will “pledge” to continue “collaborating with the city to make Española a better place to live.” Bailey then introduced the forum moderator, Mateo Frazier.

Two out three mayoral candidates, Mayor Pro-Tem, Adrianna Ortiz and Javier Sanchez attended the Forum. Councilor Robert Seeds sent a notice that he was unable to attend.

Ortiz and Sanchez spent the forum taking questions from the audience, and sharing their ideas, experience, and what they they would do on several issues.

The candidates introduced themselves. Mayor Pro Tem, Councilor Adrianna Ortiz, said she was “born and raised in Ranchitos” and “for the past four years” has served as Mayor Pro Tem. She said she had 16 years experience working in government for Los Alamos County giving her skills in finance and other skill sets that are necessary to run government smoothly. “I do have what it takes to run Española.

Mayor Pro Tem and candidate for mayor, Adrianna Ortiz, speaks to youth after the Forum ended. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the Valley Daily Post

Mayoral candidate, Javier Sanchez, introduced himself as an Española native and a local business owner. Sanchez owns La Cocina restaurant. He said that being on stage for the Forum reminded him of a “one act play” he was in while in high school. He said he holds degrees from Yale and Notre Dame.

Javier Sanchez, a candidate for mayor of Española, discusses issues with a voter after the Candidate’s Forum held Thurs., Mar. 1, at NNMC. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the Valley Daily Post

“Thank you so much for the many people who made this race happen for me,” Sanchez said. “I think about family” he said and mentioned his mom who he said he learned a great deal about life from her. He said she advised him that “honesty and forgiveness” are vital and to “never take shortcuts.” He said he was excited that the firefighters union endorsed him thanking them for believing in him. “I love being part of this valley…all of you have my back and I certainly have yours,” he concluded.

On the issue of public safety Ortiz said that public safety “is a challenge.” She said that the city council “enhanced the police department” but more staffing and patrolling is needed and said that “initiatives are set in place” and staff and the Department will be “held accountable.” She said that the she gets feedback from city residents that they are “not feeling safe.”

 Mayor Pro Tem Adrianna Ortiz sits ready to take questions as organizers collect questions from the audience at the forum held March 1 at NNMC. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the Valley Daily Post

Sanchez, on the public safety question said that a “police presence” is paramount and sometimes the only time we see police officers is when they “are going 100 miles an hour to a call.” He said in the public’s eye, the “police are the bad guys” and mentioned that the firemen doing “boot drives at Walmart gives them a presence.” He said the city “has to turn things around.”

Javier Sanchez appears relaxed and confident at the Candidates Forum held Mar. 1 at NNMC. Photo by Robert Naranjo for the Valley Daily Post

On the question posed on education, Ortiz said it is “of the utmost importance.” And the “education of our college students” is vital and “key for their careers” she added. She said that we “have to support the school board.”

Sanchez said that attending Yale and Notre Dame resulted in “meeting great people.” He said that we “have to take care of the kids.” He added “we have to have extra curricular activities” for the area’s youth to offer them something to do

The candidates were asked about Española’s homeless situation. Sanchez said that it’s an issue “all the way around and it’s a problem anywhere.” He said that it’s “easy to say we need a homeless shelter” but it’s more difficult than it appears. He said we could have a shelter where people could have a place to go for a day or even two or three. Sanchez said that there must be “pride in a home” and there should be incentives where people say, “I’m going to be proud of my home.”

Ortiz said that the “mayor can’t do the homeless issue alone.” She said there are “organizations out there and it’s going to take all of us working together.” She said that the homeless issue and mental health education are linked.

The candidates offered their ideas and solutions to other questions posed on economic development, unions, events like the Española’s Onate Fiestas, Pueblo feast days, grants that are dwindling, code of conduct, assisting seniors who have to push their poly-carts up long driveways, Española as a “sanctuary city” and other issues brought up in discussion

A question from the audience asked the candidates what they would do about the opioid crisis. Sanchez said he “could see the change in a person.” He added that, “specifically we have to look at 5th and 6

th grade students” to prevent it at that age group. He said that we should “break New Mexico into sections” and have facilities to help people get clean and drug free. He reiterated that we have to “help prevent it at a young age.”

Ortiz said that it’s not “only a crisis in the valley but nationwide.” She added, “we need to get serious about issues on opioid use.” She said that “she looks forward to working with people on this issue.”

In their concluding statements the candidates took their last opportunity at the Forum to sway voters.

Sanchez said that his mom, “Taught me to fight for what is right. To respect people. And to get nothing less than an A- in school. She taught me right from wrong. Get education to a full amount, that mattered the most.”

Sanchez said he want to make “Española the best that it can be. Bring all the greatness out. Bring that to each and every one of you.”

Ortiz said that “there is still a lot to be done.” She said that “taking on a leadership role” as mayor pro tem has given her crucial experience. She added that 16 years in government has given her “government and official training for this role.” She said that together we can create “greatness in Española.”

Ortiz added that together we “must work on all the issues together and be part of the solution to the issues.” She concluded by thanking the Española Valley Chamber of Commerce, her family and everyone for their support. “I look forward to your vote next vote next Tuesday,” she said.