De Los Santos says infrastructure needs city’s highest priority

Editor’s note: The following is the first part in a question and answer series of candidates running in the municipal election on March 7. Candidates are asked question regarding the city’s future.

Robert De Los Santos, 51, is running for re-election in Ward B. His opponent is Chad Heflin.

In your view what is the most pressing issue the Portales City Council is facing?

At present there are several issues which face and are pressing the city council, which have to do with our infrastructure.

Last week I had the opportunity to join the mayor, city manager and the rest of the council in Santa Fe. Our purpose for the trip was to meet with our legislators to make our request for funding some of our projects that need to be addressed in our community. To mention a few not in any particular order: Street improvements, Building improvements, Street equipment. To mention other issues pressing the present our present Council, are downtown streetscape, sludge removal at wastewater plant, parks and recreation, city pool.

These are just some of our high priority items projects which we have requested for legislative funding.

What is your philosophy on economic development for Portales?

The City of Portales has come a long way since I ran a retail business in the downtown area (1980-96). The one item that sticks to my mind is how the face lift of all our downtown buildings have taken shape. Thanks to our MainStreet committee for being so committed and interested in Portales and its appearance.

The present council has worked side-by-side with all that they have done and I support that. Portales actually has a pretty stable economy and is only getting better. In the last four years we have seen some of our older vacant buildings torn down or renovated. As our downtown remains the center point of our community we must continue to support and bring in new business and industry. The current council has put together a demolition project to continue to work on the vacant buildings in our community.

Should we continue to pursue the Ute Water Project? Why or why not?

The city of Portales faces depletion of water production from our current water well activity and possible contamination of other water supplies in the future of the UWP because of the growth in and around the entities participating in the UWP. I feel that it is of utmost importance to have a Plan B and that is a continuation of the research study in and around our county which the present council has had in place for the last four years.

We need to look into other water rights that may be available. A self-funding wind farm project to generate revenue to make possible the purchase of water in the future in case Congress cannot contribute the needed funds to such a project as the Ute Water Project.

With the solid waste contract with Clovis set to expire in three years, should the city reopen its own landfill? What other measures should play a part in exploring this problem?

An intelligent choice on reopening our landfill, must be basing our decision on where it is most cost effective for our citizens. When we made the decision to haul our trash to Clovis it was the most cost effective at that time. With the increase in fuel cost we must go back to the table and start negotiations with Clovis to see if it will be feasible to continue to haul our trash 20 miles down the road or build our own landfill, this will come to the council in the very near future. I would like to be instrumental in seeing that the 100-foot to ground water rule be waived by the state and federal levels. Most of our county is setting within 100 feet to water and this must be addressed first and foremost.

How should the city go about addressing housing needs?

I have served on the council for two separate four-year terms and I have never seen the opportunity for us to take advantage in making our housing needs a thing of the past. This is a perfect time for us to step up to the plate as leader of our community and help that dream come true for the many residents that wish to become first-time home buyers and attract newcomers from other areas of our nation by supporting the building of 100 new homes in Portales. The present council has visited with the housing authorities and various home builders. As a present council member I would like to see the city provide these opportunities to our residents and make possible for those who wish to become first-time homebuyers and also have availability for those who wish to upscale from their present situations.