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Alfonso Ortiz: Likely new mayor

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By David Giuliani

San Miguel County Treasurer Alfonso Ortiz will be the only candidate for Las Vegas mayor in the March election.

It’s the first time in recent memory that a non-incumbent has run unopposed for the city’s top spot. Another rarity is that no city incumbents are running for re-election.

Filing day for municipal candidates was Tuesday.

In December, Ortiz, 69, who served as a councilman in the 1970s and 1980s, announced that he would run for mayor.

Mayor Tony Marquez, elected in 2008, issued a press release last week in which he stated he wouldn’t run for a second term, saying he would be spending more time with family, fitness and the exploration of his political options.

The only hurdle for Ortiz is the possibility of write-in candidates. The filing day for write-ins is Tuesday.

Ortiz said Wednesday that he was surprised to be the only candidate, but he was happy that he didn’t have any competition.

He said Mayor Tony Marquez called him Tuesday night, promising to provide a smooth transition. He said he had already spoken with City Council members Andrew Feldman and Diane Moore, both of whom will remain on the council after the March 2 election.

Ortiz said he would continue as the treasurer but that he couldn’t run for another four-year term in 2012 because of term limits.

As mayor, he said he would listen to the people but that no one would be telling him what to do.

“We need to look at the community’s strengths and capitalize on them,” he said.

Ortiz has said he plans to keep City Manager Timothy Dodge, who started last spring, and the rest of the current city administration.

He said the only personnel change he wanted to make was promoting a current city employee to take on an undisclosed project. He wouldn’t identify that employee.

Many mayors, including Marquez, came in planning to make big personnel changes. The one exception to that trend was Henry Sanchez, who was elected in 2002 and kept the city administration in place.

In other March municipal races, Municipal Judge Eddie Trujillo, who has served since the early 1990s, is running unopposed.

Running in the Ward 1 City Council race are former longtime Councilman Macario Gonzalez, appraiser Roland Medrano, dance company owner Tonita Gurulé-Giron and retiree Bruce McAllister.

In Ward 4, the candidates are local auto shop owner David L. Romero, businessman Mike Roybal and radio show host and DJ Joseph R. Baca.

The Ward 2 and Ward 3 council seats, held by Moore and Feldman respectively, aren’t up for election until 2012.

Ward 1

Macario Gonzalez, who represented Ward 1 for 20 years until 2008, is likely the candidate to beat.

Gonzalez, a former state hospital employee, has been a proven vote-getter over the years. He trounced his opponents in 1996 and 2000, and he ran unopposed in 1992 and 2004.

He left the council in 2008 because his seat was eliminated as part of a voter-mandated reduction in the council from eight members to four.

Last year, Ward 1 City Councilman Morris Madrid announced that he wouldn’t run again, endorsing Gonzalez as his replacement.

Gurulé-Giron finished second in a five-way race in Ward 1 in 2006. She also came in fourth among five candidates for mayor in 2008.

After she filed her candidacy Tuesday, she said she wanted to bring change to the city, adding that she was qualified to do the job.

In 2006, Medrano ran for the Ward 3 City Council seat, finishing fifth out of six candidates. He said he has since moved to Church Street in Ward 1.

Calling himself a team player, Medrano said he would serve no more than two four-year terms, saying he believed in term limits. He pledged to help bring about progressive government.

He is not from Las Vegas, having come here in 1974 as a football player for Highlands University. He has been self-employed since 1985.

McAllister has been a frequent attendee of City Council meetings over the last couple of years. He has also written many letters to the editor and posted comments on the Optic’s web site, one of the very few who actually attaches his name to his thoughts.

He has been a member of the city’s public works advisory committee, but he has criticized the city for not filling vacancies on that panel. He has also backed a proposed new city charter, particularly a provision for instant runoffs.

Ward 4

After a decade and a half, Ward 4 City Councilman Cruz Roybal is leaving the council. His son, Mike Roybal, is seeking to replace him.

Romero, the auto shop owner, has been closely watching city government over the last few years. He was involved with the Committee of the People, the group that spearheaded the effort to reduce the council from eight members to four. At the time, a council majority and much of the local political establishment opposed that reduction, but nearly 90 percent of voters supported it in a special election.

Baca is most known as host of KLVF’s “JR’s Noontime Oldies Buffet” and as a fill-in for “Over the Back Fence” on both KFUN and KLVF. His father, Joseph P. Baca, owns the radio station and served as a councilman years ago.

Baca’s platform calls for exploring for more sources of water and changing city water rates to encourage greater conservation. He is also calling for the paving of more streets and using lodgers tax money to promote shopping locally.