Candidates talk goals, challenges

Christina Calloway

Portales municipal candidates agreed the issues facing the city aren’t limited to the individual wards they want to represent.

This sentiment was in response to questions asked in a live candidate forum held by local radio station KSEL-FM Thursday evening.

The forum was moderated by KSEL News Director Kevin Robbins, who asked the candidates seven listener-submitted questions.

Six of the eight candidates participated in the forum. Ward A candidates Alfredo Bachicha and Michael Lucero did not participate. Bachicha said he could not attend the forum because of a family issue. Lucero said he was speaking at a Rosary.

After opening statements, candidates responded to questions that covered issues including: The Ute water pipeline project, government liquor licensing, the Portales Police Department, highway 70 construction, and bringing business to the area.

Bringing entertainment venues and restaurants to Portales: Ward D candidate Jeff Burmeister suggested an economic summit so that many businesses and investors can meet and create unified ideas and goals.

Ward A Donovan Finley suggested using tax incentives to bring businesses in to the area.

Identify the biggest challenges facing their ward:

Ward B candidate Gary Watkins said budget, roads, and water affected his constituents.

Ward B candidate Matt Hunton said he didn’t see issues, only opportunities for the ward he wants to represent.

“I want to get to know my people, listen, and give feedback in a timely manner,” Hunton said.

With the reconstruction of Highway 70, how did they plan to alleviate any issues including parking for local businesses:

Finley and others suggested alternate routes, and Ward D candidate Keith Thomas encourages programs like Passport to Portales to boost business during construction time.

Hunton, however, said construction shouldn’t hinder people from moving around town.

“Don’t let it stop you, our town’s not that big and not that difficult to get around,” Hunton said.

Ward C candidate Leo Lovett, who is running unopposed, said for people to think of the long term result of the construction and suggested using media outlets to notify residents where construction is taking place.

How to fund the Ute water pipeline project:

“We were hoping you’d lend us the money Kevin,” Thomas said jokingly. “We’re kind of ahead of the game, we’re headed in the right direction and we’ll be able to pay for this.”

Finley said selling city controlled land for private use to create revenue for the project would be another source of money for the project.

In closing statements, candidates thanked listeners for tuning in and encouraged residents to get out and vote.

The election is Tuesday.