By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor
Portales voters will have choices to make in two of the four open city council seats in Tuesday’s municipal election.
Alfredo Bachicha Jr., incumbent in Ward A and Donald K. Shafer, incumbent in Ward C are both running unopposed. Incumbent Gary Watkins is facing challenger Michael Martinez in Ward B, while incumbent Michael Miller goes against Keith Thomas in Ward D.
I’ve got a lot of unfinished business I want to get taken care of in the next four years,” Watkins said. “We have a lot of street work we want to get done and we need to move forward on the Ute Water Project.”
His challenger, Martinez, says the biggest topics of his campaign have been city streets and safety issues.
“My candidacy is all about the people,” Martinez said. “That’s who I’m working for and why I’m trying to get elected.”
Martinez says that some of the streets in his district don’t have curb and gutter and when it rains that deficiency causes problems. He says he’ll work to get those streets fixed. He also feels that the city needs a police substation on the south side of town for safety reasons because of the potential of railroad crossings being blocked.
“A city council member needs to know what his area looks like,” Martinez said. “They don’t need to wait on somebody to come and tell them.”
Thomas, who is making his first bid for public office, says he’s learned a lot and has been buoyed by the response people have given him.
“It’s just been overwhelming to me how many people have shown their support of me,” Thomas said. “It’s been great to talk to people and get their input on what direction the city needs to go in.”
Thomas says first and foremost on his list of issues is assuring a water supply for the city.
“Without water the existence of Portales is in trouble,” he said.
Thomas says he’ll also work to improve streets. He also would like more emphasis placed on the north side of town and possibly getting a substation for the fire department on the north side of the tracks.
Miller says after 32 years making a living in Portales he’s humbled to serve as a councilor.
“I grew up in Portales, I’m an Eastern (New Mexico University) grad and I’m just trying to give something back to the community,” Miller said.
Miller also sees water and infrastructure as the most important issues facing the city.
“We need to try and continue to develop our community to be a great place to live,” he said.
Watkins said he was hoping most of all for a good voter turnout Tuesday.
“There are a little over 1,300 registered voters in my district and the last time we had an election like this only about 60-70 turned out,” Watkins said. “I would like to see some records set and see more people involved in city government.”
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.
Ward A — Lindsey Middle School
Ward B — Memorial Building
Ward C — James Elementary
Ward D — Portales Recreation Center
Information: City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry, 356-6602, ext. 12