By Tony Parra
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega first announced he would be running for re-election on Dec. 22 and now he is running unopposed in the March 7 election.
Tuesday was the only day for filing candidacy for the mayor’s position, four city wards and the municipal judge. Ortega, 43, won the mayoral election in 2002.
The only other position which has only one candidate is Ward C. Ron Jackson, incumbent city councilor, is running unopposed. Jackson, 45, has served four years as city councilor and is also the chairman of the Portales Recreation Board. Jackson has lived in Portales since 1975 and works as a vice president for the Portales National Bank.
There are three people who will be running for the municipal judge’s spot in February. Fred Arnold, 54, the incumbent will be going up against Oscar Robinson, 65, and Arla Hitson, 62.
Arnold has been the municipal judge for the last nine years. Arnold said he was appointed for one year then won the last two elections. Arnold has lived in Portales since 1989.
Robinson is the director of personnel at Eastern New Mexico University and has worked at ENMU since 1985. Robinson was a city councilor for eight years serving until 2002.
He said he worked as chairman of the Eastern Plains Council of Government during his city-councilor tenure.
Hitson, who works part-time at Portales Livestock, served as Roosevelt County Treasurer from 1997 to 2001. Hitson and her husband ran Hitson Accounting in Portales for 40 years and she has lived in Portales all that time.
The other four positions have two or more candidates in each of the races. Jake Lopez, 68, the incumbent for Ward A, has served as city councilor and Roosevelt County commissioner. Lopez held office as city councilor from 2002 to 2006 and 1998 to 1992. Previously Lopez served as a Roosevelt County county commissioner from 1992 to 2002.
Lopez has lived in Portales since 1960. Lopez said he wanted to run for re-election because of tasks he wanted to complete.
“I still have a lot of work to do and things I need to do,” Lopez said. “There’s a lot of things like working on roads, railroad crossings and water issues that I’ve helped with. There’s still a lot of things to do in my district and in the whole city.”
Lopez works as maintenance director for La Casa de Buena Salud and works for all four health clinics in Portales, Clovis, Hondo and Roswell.
Lopez will be running against Lorenzo Baca, 39, in Ward A. Baca has been the owner of Baca Electric for five years and serves as the vice president for the Portales Skateboard Organization.
PSO members are in the process of building a new skatepark with the help of City of Portales officials.
“It’s helped me a lot,” Baca said about meeting with recreation board members and helping with the plan to bring a new skatepark to Portales. “I felt like I can make a difference and wanted to be involved in a lot of what happens in Portales.”
Baca has lived all of his life in Portales.
Robert De Los Santos, the incumbent city councilor, is running for re-election in Ward B after terms from 1994 to 1998 and 2002 to 2006.
De Los Santos has been on the public works and airport committees for the city. He has worked as the local agent for Horace Mann and Teachers’ Insurance.
“There’s still some issues on the table I would like to see go through and be a part of,” De Los Santos said. “The two top issues are the Ute Water Project and landfill. There are three years left on our landfill contract.”
The City of Portales employees transport garbage to the Clovis landfill and a seven-year contract is in place.
“We’re going to have to make a decision to either continue transporting to Clovis or seek to have our own landfill,” De Los Santos said.
Chad Heflin, 24, has lived in Portales all of his life and has worked on several construction projects in Portales. Heflin will be running against De Los Santos in Ward B.
Heflin’s father, Danny Heflin, and grandfather, J.B. Heflin have worked in the construction business for many years in Portales.
Chad Heflin is helping with the construction of the Dawg House, a new sports bar, in Portales. Heflin hopes to have it ready by April. Heflin and Baca do not have any previous political experience.
“I think a lot of people get wrapped up and worried about political experience,” Chad Heflin said. “I think it’s more important to worry about the local people and their needs. I deal with local people and have experience dealing with the labor force.”
There are three candidates for the Ward D spot. The incumbent, Dianne Parker, has served as a city councilor for Ward D for the last 14 years. During her tenure, she has been on the Public Works, Public Safety and Finance Committees.
“I’m seeking re-election because I’ve really enjoyed working on the city council and representing my constituents in Ward D,” Parker said. “There are a lot of things that were started that I want to complete.”
Parker lived in Portales from 1978 to 1980 then lived in Texico for five years. Since 1985, Parker has lived in Portales and has worked for the Portales School District for 20 years. Parker is the purchasing agent and administrative assistant for the school district.
She will be running against Eddy Hiner and Jim Lee. Hiner ran against Mike Miller during the 2004 election for Ward D.
A message was left with Lee, but the call was not returned.
Hiner did not want to comment on the election.