By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
Four candidates are vying for mayor in this year’s Portales municipal election, and two of five city councilor races are contested.
Municipal Judge Frederick Arnold is unchallenged in seeking re-election.
Tuesday was filing day for the March 2 municipal election candidates.
City Councilor Gary Watkins, Twin Oaks Construction owner Steven Davis, Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharon King and Mental Health Resources Inc. Director of Supported Employment Dennis Lopez are running for mayor. Current Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. isn’t seeking re-election.
City Councilor Robert De Los Santos is also not running for re-election. Former City Councilor Oscar Robinson, Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative Inc. employee Antonio Sanchez Jr. and non-traditional Eastern New Mexico University senior Calvin Gray are seeking that open seat in Ward B.
In Ward C, Councilor Shawn Watson is running against Leo Lovett of Wells Fargo Bank.
Councilors Antonio Salguero, Ronald Jackson and Dianne Parker have no challengers in their bids for re-election.
Davis said he thought with the nation’s current situation, a lot of people were seeing the need to offer themselves.
“We’ll have issues in our future, and we’ll just have to deal with them when they come about,” he said when asked about his priorities if elected mayor.
Davis said his qualifications involve being a life-long Portales resident, coming from a family that believes in public service, previously serving on the Portales Municipal Schools Board of Education and running several local businesses over the past three decades.
If elected, Lopez said, he would first work with a management team to ensure a smooth transition.
Lopez said he would like to bridge the gap between ENMU and the rest of the community. He also expects to prioritize street improvements, clean up, the waste water treatment plant, recreation, raising employee pay and technology such as an automated utility bill payment system.
Lopez said he had ideas, education, relationships with leaders and energy that would benefit the community.
Since 1997, Lopez has been involved with Portales politics, and he spent eight years as a Roosevelt County Commissioner.
Watkins said his top priority if elected would be the budget, expecting little help from the state.
“So we’ve just got to tighten our belts a little bit and keep our heads above water and do what we’ve got to do for a little while,” Watkins said.
Other priorities include retaining city employees, keeping the Ute Water Project going and having more public input.
“I think being retired, I’ve got the time and the effort to put in to do what’s needed,” Watkins said.
The candidate also cited 12 years on the council and 25 years as a city employee as qualifications.
King could not be reached for comment.