By Tony Parra
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega made his announcement to run for re-election on Thursday feeling there is still some unfinished business in the office of the mayor.
“I want to start by thanking the citizens of this community for allowing me to serve as mayor for the last four years,” Ortega said. “I want to announce my candidacy for mayor for the next term.”
Ortega was elected in 2002 and is completing his first four-year term as mayor. Ortega replaced Don Davis as mayor.
“I’ve worked hard in my four years to improve the community and improve the quality of life for citizens,” Ortega said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Ortega said he feels much has been accomplished in terms of helping with small businesses and to address city needs, such as hotels. Ortega said the Holiday Inn Express will open in January. Ortega said an agreement is in place with San Diego developer, Steve Nishimuta, for renovations to the Portales Inn, however, construction has not started on the project.
A portfolio is being created by city officials to contact property owners of vacant lots to see about the possibility of opening new businesses or tearing down old buildings.
Ortega said the Ute Water Project is another item he has helped with not only as mayor, but as the vice chairman for the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority. The eight-member entity is pursuing a more than $300 million pipeline project bringing water to eastern New Mexico from Ute Lake.
Ortega said the partnership with city councilors and other city representatives has helped improve the community.
His declaration of candidacy is for one of six municipal positions which will be up for election in March. There will be four city ward seats and the municipal judge’s seat up for election in March.
Currently, Fred Arnold serves as the municipal judge. The city council representatives are elected to serve four-year terms.
The last city council election took place in March of 2004 when Mike Miller defeated Eddie Hiner for the Ward D position. The other three candidates, Alfred Bachicha (Ward A), Gary Watkins (Ward B) and D.K. Shafer (Ward C) ran unopposed.
The other seats in each ward will be up for election in March. Jake Lopez currently represents Ward A, while Robert de los Santos serves in Ward B. Ron Jackson is the representative for Ward C and Dianne Parker represents Ward D.
Veda Urioste, administrative assistant for the City of Portales, said those who are going to run for the offices need to file for candidacy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 10.
Urioste said ballots for absentee voting will be sent out on or about Jan. 31. Early voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 15 and concludes on March 3.