Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Santa Fe District 1 County Commission Forum
Tonight Undersheriff Robert Garcia and I hit the Democratic Party forum for the District 1 County Commission seat currently held by Commissioner Harry Montoya. Our Santa Fe County Democratic Chair Richard Ellenberg played moderator and read questions to the candidates who each had a chance to introduce themselves and give opening comments before answering questions. The current candidates for District 1 are Jon Paul Romero, Lenny Roybal, Paul White, and Daniel "Danny" Mayfield.
Water was on the audiences mind as the first question solicited the candidates opinions on the Aamodt settlement while the second question was on water rights and the writer of the question framed it in a way to convey the feelings that too many projects are being funded on the pueblo lands in Northern New Mexico. The Aamodt settlement which has not really yet been fully settled has been a huge bone of contention to non pueblo residents in Northern Santa Fe County. After news of the settlement came out following court ordered secret negotiations a county poll showed resident dissatisfaction which prompted County Commissioner Harry Montoya to write op-ed pieces defending the settlement. Residents are still unhappy and this settlement was an issue in the 2006 district 1 elections and looks to be an issue in 2010 as well. I was still shaking hands and drinking coffee so I did not take good notes on the water issues but I did sit down and take notes on the economic and crime questions.
On the Economy Jon Paul Romero wants to open regional small business incubators through out Santa Fe County. Lenny Roybal wants to teach people to grow their own food, open more co-ops and encourage landlords to lower rents in order to foster small business growth and he wants to encourage more students to become teachers. Paul White claimed the county has tripled its spending in the last three years. (I am sure this is not true, at least the Santa Fe Sheriff's budget is no where near tripled and has actually been cut by 8 percent in the 2009-2010 fiscal year and further cuts are expected. ) Mr. White also wants to promote a green economy, affordable housing and diversification of the economy. Danny Mayfield says we need to look closely at how we are spending county money but employment and jobs provided by the county is important to economic development however we need to ensure county employees are doing a good job and earning their pay.
Crime and youth crime was the next question and Paul White says in Chupadero where he lives there is a large drug related crime problem. He stated he has worked with the Sheriff's Office on developing a neighborhood watch program. He also advocated for programs for kids in jail to turn their lives around. Danny Mayfield stated we need to lead by example and be role models for children. He advocated supporting law enforcement and promote deputies spending more time in local neighborhoods. Jon Paul Romero says the solutions start at home and school. He advocated more activities and places for teens and stated we needed to be role models for our children. Lenny Roybal says we need to properly fund law enforcement and hire more deputies. He also advocated properly funding fire and 911 dispatch operators. He also stated we need to educate our youth and felt we needed programs in the jails for youth. Lenny also referred to the movie "Blind Side" and said "its easy to hurt a child but its hard to help them". He also said he cringes when schools look at dropping sports programs as they teach kids about life.
Each candidate had their supporters in the audience who were joined by several other candidates and elected officials including the man the candidates on the hot seat were seeking to replace, Commissioner Harry Montoya. Also in the audience was County Commission Candidate Robert Anaya who was probably getting warmed up for forums in his district 3 race to replace his brother Mike Anaya. The man seeking to take my job Undersheriff Robert Garcia was also in the audience shaking hands and passing out bumper stickers and business cards.