Mayor sticking to local politics — for now

Mike Linn

For the next two years the only offices Mayor Orlando Ortega will hold will be in his hometown of Portales.
The Democrat on Tuesday made public his decision to not seek the District 66 position with the New Mexico House of Representatives. But Ortega said he plans on running for the position when his term as mayor is up in 2006.
“After much thought and discussion with citizens of Portales, I see clearly that my role and responsibility right now and for the next two years is to be mayor of Portales and to help move our community forward with progress,” Ortega wrote in a press release to the PNT on Tuesday.
Ortega said he decided to forgo running for the position on March 8, but waited to announce publicly until he spoke with his supporters.
The TV and operations director at Eastern New Mexico University’s KENW-TV would have faced Rep. Earlene Roberts, R-Lovington, for the District 66 seat. Roberts has been a legislator for 16 years and will be running a ninth term.
“Orlando is a fine young man and he makes a good mayor,” Roberts said. “Of course it is a relief not to have to look at a huge campaign this year.”
District 66 includes portions of Lovington, Portales, Artesia, Roswell and much of Roosevelt County. The district is a republican stronghold, Robert said.
“All of my district actually votes Republican very strong, because they’re very conservative,” Roberts said. “It seems as if the Republican philosophy more nearly fits the east side of the state.”
Ortega said citizens of Portales and other areas in eastern New Mexico were in support of him running for the seat. He said he doesn’t believe being a Democrat will hurt his chances in 2006.
“I feel very honored that many throughout New Mexico, both Democrats and Republicans, have considered me as a viable candidate,” Ortega wrote in the release. “I believe the people of this region are looking for fresh, new leadership. As long as I can provide that I don’t think party affiliation will be a major factor.”
The filing date for the District 66 position is on Tuesday. Roberts said she is unaware of anybody’s plan to run against her.