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Candidate questionnaires

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By The Staff

District 68 state rep

Thomas A. Garcia

Democrat

Age: 36

How long in the district: Life

Occupation: Education-ranching

Experience: Deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Tom Udall 2000-07. District 68 State Representative 2006-present.

Education: Graduated from Wagon Mound High School as valedictorian. Graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a bachelor of arts in political science, combined science (chemistry and math), secondary education; master of arts in history/Southwest studies.

Family: parents: Leo and Aurora Garcia; brothers: Paul, Mark, Dan, Matt; spouse Vanessa; children: Melinda and Antonio.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I possess the qualities and qualifications necessary to represent the people of District 68 and New Mexico effectively. I bring a wealth of education and experience built on actions, not words. I discuss veterans’ issues knowledgeably and intimately because I am a veteran and three of my brothers are also veterans. Additionally, two of my brothers are combat veterans having served in Iraq and my wife’s brother is currently serving in Iraq. I work on education issues with the knowledge of a teacher currently teaching our future leaders and preparing them for prosperous futures in our state. Finally, I have a proven record of success, accomplishment and leadership built on dedication, hard work and integrity.

What is your assessment of the Legislature? Can you do a better job? How? The Legislature is an effective body that does an excellent job of providing services for the citizens of the state. As citizen legislators, we truly represent the will of the people we represent because we are part of the communities and spending our daily lives with those we serve. There is always room for improvement as a Legislature and there is always room for personal and professional improvement as well. I am committed to give the people of District 68 my best at all times, and I have worked to improve my effectiveness as a legislator by participating in legislative leadership trainings and activities. Last year, while attending a legislative training academy, I was elected president of the academy consisting of representatives and senators from 13 western states. The people of District 68 can be proud to know their representative has one of the best voting records in the House.

If you received $1 million for your district, how would you like to spend it? I would work to spend dollars in the most effective and beneficial use for the people of District 68. As is evidenced in the last two years of my service, people can see that I have put my money where my mouth is and worked to provide for our schools, first responders and communities. My service has been built on actions of providing for our people in a responsible manner. We must take careful consideration to evaluate the needs of the people to ensure they have quality educational opportunities; we are able to meet the critical first responder needs for our firefighters and police and the basic needs of our people to ensure a positive quality of life I will continue to spend dollars as I have during my tenure to ensure my people are provided for to the best of my ability.

How do you feel about the way the state distributes money for capital projects? Like any system, there is always room for improvement; however, we discuss proposals with our constituents and government entities for months prior to the legislative session and take with us a vast personal knowledge of projects throughout our districts. We then work to fund those projects based on their value to the communities and citizens. Overall, it is a successful system that requires the citizens elect the most effective and respected leaders to this critical positions to ensure they get the best representation possible. During my service the people of District 68 have always had an open-door policy, and I have opened the lines of communication with all the areas of the district to ensure everyone’s views and opinions are heard and weighed into the most beneficial use of their dollars.

Is there anything the state can do to further reduce the number of DWIs? We need to take a comprehensive and global look at this issue to find real solutions to protect our citizens. I am currently drafting legislation that I am confident will assist in reducing access to alcohol in convenience stores and gas stations. While the bill will not stop the problem, I am confident the bill can become a useful tool in reduction. By working together toward the specific goal of reducing DWI and thinking creatively by utilizing new ideas we can continue to make progress in combating this epidemic. In seeking a solution, we must incorporate a broad use of our resources to reduce access to alcohol, provide rehabilitation and remediation, and utilize penalties effectively so we can bring all the tools together and fully equip our toolbox to better combat and reduce DWI across New Mexico.

What measures would you introduce to attack crime? While combating crime is critical, we must look at attacking the root of crime and criminal activity. We must look at providing rehabilitation opportunities to reduce recidivism and work to reduce our overpopulated jail and prison systems. We can work with our youth by giving them first hand educational opportunities at seeing the negative effects of criminal activity by expanding our courts to schools programs so our youth can see the court system is not what they see on television, but has real people with families that feel the impact of the decisions their loved ones make. Additionally, by providing this real-life view, our youth can see there are severe and life changing consequences for the bad decisions made by individuals. As such, we can focus our efforts on prevention to allow us to reauthorize dollars spent on incarceration to education.

What can be done to improve education in New Mexico? A critical aspect of improving education in New Mexico is to allow our teachers to teach our students and not overburden teachers with bureaucracy and red tape. We must have accountability in our schools to ensure the dollars we are allocating for education is being utilized appropriately; however, we cannot let bureaucracy run how we educate our children. Instead, our focus should be on those we entrust with our children by ensuring we have highly educated and trained teachers by providing professional development opportunities and paying our treasured teachers appropriately. By investing in our teachers, we can ensure our children have the best chances for success. Additionally, we can expand our efforts to promote higher education through vocational schools and universities by providing advanced education while students are still in high school, thus providing opportunities to students to graduate concurrently then pursue additional education or enter the workforce better prepared.

How would you approach tax issues? Tax issues should be addressed as needed to provide for our citizens. In 2008, I introduced, passed and got signed into law a bill that allowed the Village of Angel Fire to incorporate a lodgers tax for the purpose of building a sports facility; however, the bill provided for a local option that allowed the citizens of the Village to vote to accept or reject the proposal after the village council voted to place the issue on the ballot for consideration. I believe in having an informed and involved citizenry to ensure we can utilize taxes effectively. Additionally, I have supported returning dollars to the people through tax relief measures. I believe we are the keepers of our destiny and should utilize the tax structure, as appropriate; to provide for the betterment of our communities while working to ensure the tax structure is fair and equitable for everyone.

Should spending be cut? If so, give specific examples of how this can be done? Spending could be cut when programs are no longer beneficial or prove to be outdated; however, we should first look at ways to enhance programs to ensure their success and viability. First, we should analyze expenditures to ensure we are benefiting the most people through appropriate uses of tax dollars. Once we have identified programs that are not being utilized by our citizens we should look at reauthorizing those dollars for a more appropriate and beneficial use before deciding to simply cut those needed dollars for our rural and poor communities. As we look into the future and the possibility of tightening our belts we must work to ensure we do not cut dollars from effective and positive programs that many of our citizens depend on to provide healthcare, childcare and making it possible for our citizens to pursue the American dream.

How should the state expand health care? We have made great strides during my tenure in the Legislature by expanding healthcare opportunities to children and other vulnerable citizens. I believe we must do our best to provide coverage for those that need it the most. Additionally, we must look into providing coverage when our people need protection the most by working to reduce wait times to acquire coverage and by evaluating, reducing or removing barriers with regards to certain preexisting conditions. We have all experienced situations where we see our family or friends struggling to provide basic human health needs and don’t have the necessary means. We live in a time when we should view healthcare as a basic human right and not a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. Our people should never have to choose between feeding their families or paying for prescriptions and heath coverage. We must make healthcare available, affordable and accessible.

SYLVIA OLSoN

Republican

The Optic was unable to get a questionnaire to Olson.

District 70 state rep

RICHARD VIGIL

Democrat

Age: 46

How long in the district: Life

Occupation: Self-employed (business owner)

Experience: Legislator for 10 years state representative 1999-present District 70

Education: Graduate of West Las Vegas High School, Attended New Mexico Highlands University

Family: Parents: Late Antonio and Felicita Vigil; 17 brothers and sisters; spouse Roberta

Why are you the best candidate for the job? As a business owner, my duties are constantly working with people in the community. I am familiar with the government process. I have a successful record as the State Representative for District 70 built on accomplishments, accessibility, reliability, communication, integrity and commitment.

What is your assessment of the Legislature? Can you do a better job? How? The New Mexico citizen Legislature is a process of open government that permits constituents and legislators to work on different issues. The key term is work: Working together, all things are possible. Yes, I feel that the New Mexico legislators can improve on their commitment by having an office with a full-time staff member to assist on the legislative process year long.

If you received $1 million for your district, how would you like to spend it? The first step would be to listen to the citizens of my district and government agencies, acquire the necessary capital outlay requests and follow the process of the Legislature.

How do you feel about the way the state distributes money for capital outlay projects? There is always room for improvement. However, I feel that the process is equitable because it follows the legislative process permitting legislators to listen to the citizens’ needs.

Is there anything the state can do to further reduce the number of DWIs? Alcoholism is a physical illness. The state of New Mexico views this illness as a crime. This illness needs to be treated as such. For instance, when people get cited for DWI, they should receive medical intervention, counseling and the like. I am not saying that the person cited with the DWI should not be held accountable for the crime such as jail time, but they should also receive further intervention.

What measures would you introduce to attack crime? Crime is cause and effect. The state needs to look at the cause of the crime and the effects it has on the community. I as a legislator have supported programs in the local high schools and the community to combat DWI and gang prevention. If elected, I will continue my efforts to attack crime as “cause and effect.” What can be done to improve education in New Mexico? The education system in New Mexico is at its best. However, there is always room for improvement. I feel that the state Public Education Department and the New Mexico Legislature need to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic seasoned with technology.

How would you approach tax issues? Tax issues need to be addressed as needed to provide for the needs of the citizens of New Mexico. Tax issues are ever changing.

Should spending be cut? If so, give specific examples of how this can be done? Spending should be looked at constantly for checks and balances making sure the needs of the citizens are met.

How should the state expand health care? Health care should be provided for everyone. It should be a given (equally) for every citizen of every age. Health care in New Mexico should be a collaborative effort between local, state and federal governments to provide the necessary health care.

Mel Root

Republican

Age: 74

How long in district:

My wife and I met at Highlands University in 1954, married and have been in business here since 1969, living in other parts of New Mexico until we retired and becoming full-time residents once again nine years ago.

Occupation: Retired educator

Experience: Teacher/coach: 1957-1966; statewide talent search project coordinator, 1966-1970; founder, Drug Education Program, state Department of Education, then at College of Santa Fe, 1970-1973; superintendent of schools, 1973-1983; administrator 1983-1999.

Education: Bachelor of arts, master of arts, NMHU, 1957

Family: My wife of 51 years, Las Vegan Jeannette R. Montgomery and I have two daughters living in San Miguel County and one son living in Santa Fe County.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? The tough administrative positions that I have held over 40 years have taught me how to work effectively with others to build consensus and find the best solutions as a team. Ten years of experience as a superintendent of schools has taught me to be multi-task oriented. Years of coaching experience taught me how to pull different individuals together and mold them into a successful organization. Teamwork is evident in the legislative sessions in which individuals reach across the aisle and work with members of both political parties. My vision is to improve educators’ salaries, fight drug abuse and create a better business environment in both San Miguel and Torrance counties.

What is your assessment of the current Legislature? Can you do a better job? How? The Legislature has done some good work, but it is interested in having the government overtax and over-control the people. I think some fresh ideas are in order. One of the things we can do to make things work better is to return more of the power to local control, instead of state control. We need to give New Mexicans as much tax relief as we are able, in the form of tax cuts or tax credits. We need to listen to all concerned individuals rather than being tied to the goals of either political party. I believe I can do a better job because I have a good understanding of how to work with others and how to develop fresh ideas.

If you received $1 million for your district, how would you spend it? One million dollars could be spent on educational growth and teachers salaries, building repairs, school supplies and equipment. The most important investment is in our children and grandchildren’s futures, and their best hope is through a solid education. Many government officials talk about putting a large investment of monies into educational programs. It behooves us to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk.

How do you feel about the way the state distributes money for capital projects? Having no experience in this area, I will do research on it. My guess is that the senators and representatives and the governor have a lot of give and take on these matters. The capital projects that have obtained funding from District 70 seem to represent good thinking and good follow-through. Statewide, I see great improvement in major highways, in government buildings and innovative projects such as the rail runner.

Is there anything the state can do to further reduce the number of DWIs? For repeat offenders, perhaps more extensive mental health evaluation, assessment and treatment, long range work projects and better education and alcohol treatment. The state has the full authority to confiscate offenders’ drivers’ licenses.

What measures would you introduce to attack crime? Better enforcement of existing laws is a good place to start. Support of drug courts and teen courts has been proven to be effective. Teaching students how to positively resolve conflicts is a good way to reduce violence. We can introduce programs that assist with this. There are also programs, such as peacemaker courts, that have been helpful in decreasing community violence. We must support and strengthen our families and discourage domestic violence.

What can be done to improve education in New Mexico? The main focus is to raise the level of expectation of our students. We can work on this by encouraging a higher level of parent-community and teacher-administrator interaction. Once we are expecting more, we need to support our teachers; pay them well and assure that better performance equals better rewards. Additionally, we need modern equipment in many areas, but particularly in science, physics and computer technology. We need more community involvement between the teaching profession and local businesses. Business leaders could become mentors to high school students in several areas.

How would you approach tax issues? I would like to see New Mexico working families able to keep more of the dollars they earn, instead of being taxed so much that there’s no way to make ends meet. New taxes or tax increases are often a lazy way of doing things. While it is important to properly fund meaningful projects, putting additional monies into projects does not guarantee success. Sometimes, better legislative oversight is needed.

Should spending be cut? If so, give specific examples of how this can be done. We could reduce spending by making state government smaller and more efficient, at every level. Government tends to overspend, since it does not create the income but only collects it from each of us. When a new administration goes beyond a 10 to 20 percent increase in any department, there is a strong likelihood of overlap of services provided. By eliminating this overlap, the same services can be provided at a lesser cost.

How should the state expand health care? The best use of resources is to create a partnership where the private sector would provide health care and the government would regulate it. There are so many things we can work on to reduce health care costs. We can improve access to health care providers such as midwives, nurse practitioners, naturopaths and others. We can promote better wellness and preventative measures. We can focus on improving health by providing more nutritious school lunches, community gardens, farmers’ markets and other access to high quality food. We can cut down on the vending of junk foods and sodas at our schools.

District 2 County Commission

Mary Bridget Maloney

Republican

Age: 44

Education: Bachelor of science in political/behavioral science

How long in district: I moved to Santa Fe nearly twenty years ago. In 1994, I set down roots in Ilfeld, N.M. My husband and I remain in Ilfeld, and are proud to call San Miguel County our home.

Occupation: I am a professional communications trainer for a long-established corporate communications skills enhancement testing and training organization. My areas of expertise are train the trainer, online data collection systems design, communication assessment, communication style adaptability training and oral competency training.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I believe that I am the best candidate for the job of District 2 County Commissioner because, as commissioner I will vow, above all else, to always serve “The People” to the best of my ability. The citizens of District 2 deserve an honest, ethical representative who will place their will as the No. 1 priority. In the District 2 race, I am that candidate. I believe that the goal of improving our county must transcend all imposed limitations, and must become our sincere, committed objective.

What is your assessment of the current County Commission? Can you do a better job? If the residents of District 2 put their faith in me on election day, then I will bring to the position a unique blend of business acumen, common sense, commitment to integrity and honor, and an embrace of technological and productivity advancements that will hopefully usher our County Commission into a new era of transparency, accountability, and user-friendly interaction with, and respect for the citizens of San Miguel County. The voters deserve to be able to look their commissioner in the eye. I intend to offer that most basic gesture of respect to the citizens of District 2 by focusing on improved accessibility, including phone, web, and a regularly scheduled physical availability. ‘The People’ have a voice, and they want it to be heard.

What is your assessment of the county manager? Rather than offer less than a first-hand working assessment of the county manager, I see greater value in pointing out that there appears to be a real disconnect between the manager, the commissioners and the different department heads throughout our county government. Our county government seems to have difficulty demonstrating straight up project completion. It seems as though there is a point in the process, where project commitments and goals seem to be breaking down. None can argue that we could be doing so much better in our county. We have the infrastructure fundamentals, including two colleges, which would typically indicate the potential for a higher earning workforce. Yet, census data show that we are experiencing an upside down phenomenon in our labor pool. The more educated worker is relocating out of our county, and is being replaced by a worker with a lower earnings capacity. This means that we are failing to offer those workers the employment or entrepreneurial opportunities and/or perhaps community amenities draw to keep them in our fair county.

If the county received $1 million, how would you like to spend it? If our county received a $1 million windfall, and if no emergency budgetary shortfall were pressing, then I would strongly urge the rest of the commission to join me in my unwavering support of small business incubation. That $1 million would go a long way toward helping our county’s gifted entrepreneurs turn their start-up businesses into successful employers of tomorrow. We could contract a formal feasibility study for approximately 20,000 (with state matching funds) to determine the feasibility of establishing a Las Vegas Business Incubator, with a Pecos satellite. Economic development can be hit or miss, meaning that we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future to assess whether our economic development efforts will have paid off as expected. The statistics of how successful incubators are is only dwarfed by the success stories of the companies that have gotten their start with incubator assistance. Business Incubation is a smart investment for our county’s future!

How do you feel about county roads? Our roads are a serious disappointment. County road project funding lacks parity, and this must be addressed. We must establish, and stick to a needs assessment policy that will allow the county to objectively rate the condition of our roads. Then commit to scheduled repairs and maintenance, while of course allowing for emergencies. We need better organization in scheduling equipment assignments, so that we don’t have graders or blades sitting unmanned at our local waste transfer stations. We must make a stronger commitment to keep more trained blade operators on the county payroll, even if it means that training need be accomplished incrementally. The fact of the matter is that a poorly graded road strips the much needed base-course from the surface of the road. This ends up increasing the maintenance costs of those roads in the future, thereby causing a negative cycle of further damage as the drainage ditches become filled in.

If you’re not happy with county roads, how would you improve them? Be specific. First, our non-paved roads are being systematically damaged by current grading. This is a double-edged sword because as the base-course is being stripped from the road surface, the functionally imperative drainage ditches are being filled in. The answer to the problem is more consistent oversight, and improved commitment to training our heavy equipment operators. Maintenance materials are a significant funding issue. We should tackle funding three ways: First, by remaining diligent in petitioning for all state and federal project and matching funds, even if it means re-arranging the project schedule. Two, we need to commit to better organization of labor resources to minimize project costs. And three, we need to commit to helping spur business development throughout the county, so as to capitalize on much needed business tax revenue. If we focus on growing business within the county, we will concurrently grow our funding sources.

What can be done to reduce the amount of illegal dumping in the county’s rural areas? Many counties throughout the nation umbrella their waste costs into the property tax roll. This eliminates past due accounts, and the exorbitant costs of collection. It also eliminates the hostility over one neighbor paying dumping fees when another is not. We all benefit from responsible dumping. Moreover, the extra charges serve to discourage responsible dumping. We need to determine what our actual waste management costs are, then we need to identify and assess all of our options. Recycling programs may help reduce program costs, as they reduce both the need for landfill space, and the volume of materials processed, while providing a tangible product, with real value. A neighbor of mine recently hauled a load of scrap, recyclables and a junk car to town and walked away with a $400 check for his trouble. If using private hauling contractors would lower the program costs, then we need to seek those bids. Those residents with an EPA permit, and who have no waste services can be opted out via a simple waiver.

Is the Sheriff’s Department adequately funded? If not, how can the commission change this situation? Our Sheriff’s Department is not adequately funded. Though, the Sheriff’s Department is not alone in that regard. Ours is a poor county, with an under-representation of private enterprise. As we all know: money doesn’t grow on trees. As such, if we want a better-funded Sheriff’s Department or a better funded Highway Department, improved substance abuse programs or better schools, then we need to begin to shift our focus on expanding private enterprise and less on government employment. The latest census data show that government is the largest employer in our county. We have simply got to make the shift to a more business-friendly environment if we wish to grow our budget capacity.

Is the county government appropriately staffed? There is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to that question. The county is comprised of many different divisions. Those respective divisions experience their own fluid staffing realities. There is quite likely overlap, as well as shortages that either churn out too quickly or remain unfilled for any number of reasons. We need to commit to an honest assessment of our staffing needs, the possibility of productivity incentives versus new hires, consolidation where possible and a sincere examination of when and how private contractors can fulfill our county’s needs less expensively, without compromising quality.

Marcellino Ortiz

Democrat

Candidate didn’t return questionnaire.

District 5 County Commission

Nicolas T. Leger

Democrat

Age: 52

How long in San Miguel County: With the exception of the three years I lived in Albuquerque while attending Law School, I have lived in San Miguel Co. my entire life. Ten years in District Five.

Occupation: Real estate attorney

Experience: Practicing attorney in San Miguel County for the last 28 years; former district judge, Fourth Judicial District: former assistant district attorney, Fourth Judicial District; Member, city of Las Vegas Labor Management Relations Board; Member,

New Mexico Highlands University Labor Management Board; extensive experience in land law, water law, land use planning; past board member New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association.

Education: 1974 graduate of West Las Vegas High; 1978 honors graduate New Mexico Highlands University-political science, history, business; !981 graduate University of New Mexico School of Law.

Family: Fourth son of seven children born to Ray Leger and the late Mela Lucero-Leger; married 24 years to the former Corine Montoya; two lovely daughters, Alicia and Marisa.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? First and foremost because of my love and passion for our beautiful San Miguel County and its residents. I have committed my entire career to serving the residents of San Miguel County as an attorney and now wish to do so as their commissioner. I bring to the position over 28 years of legal experience in solving many of the very issues facing San Miguel County, including land use and development, roads and easements, water rights and employee relations. As an attorney and former district judge, I have faced and made the difficult decisions a commissioner is confronted with. My career has also taught me to listen to both sides of an issue and that compassion must be part of the decision making process. I have the experience, knowledge and compassion to fill this important position.

What is your assessment of the current County Commission? Can you do a better job? The current County Commission has performed well over the past several years. We have seen the completion of the county health building, District Court offices, and renovation of the district attorney’s office and county courthouse. The county budget has increased to more than $25 million and is in the black. With my help, the commission could do better at partnering with other entities, such as the city of Las Vegas, to work together on issues of common interest such as water, economic development, solid waste disposal and land-use planning. I would also work to see the commission reach out more to the citizens it serves through community meetings around the county. I would bring a different perspective to setting policy based on my years of legal experience.

What is your assessment of the county manager? I believe Les Montoya has done an excellent job for the county, and we are lucky to have him. The commission sets policy and the direction it deems best, but it is then up to the county manager and his staff to implement the policy and goals. By and large, I believe we have excellent County employees. However, as county commissioner, I will evaluate Mr. Montoya’s performance as well as all of management’s to see where we can improve because there is always room for improvement. I would also like to see the county hire a full time grants writer. The job is now performed by employees with other duties and a good grants writer is worth his/her weight in gold to a county very dependent on grants.

If the county received $1 million, how would you like to spend it? It would be tempting to use the million dollars to provide bonuses to all county employees or give a onetime tax break to tax payers, but that would not be wise in an economically depressed area. I would utilize the money to benefit all county residents, including county employees, by purchasing a piece or two of needed equipment for the road department; new computers for county offices and a paved road or two. These expenditures would be of long-term benefit to all county residents..

How do you feel about county roads? Constituents desperately want county roads improved and I would make it a priority to do so. County roads are the arteries that allow county residents access to state highways and then Las Vegas, Pecos, Villanueva, Trujillo and other communities in San Miguel County and the rest of the state of New Mexico. Our county roads are absolutely essential and we have an obligation to keep them in good repair. Though some roads may be utilized by only a few residents, those residents need and depend on county roads.

If you’re not happy with county roads, how would you improve them? Be specific on funding. The greatest obstacle to better roads is money. The county has taken a good step toward better roads in planning to produce its own materials at less cost than if purchased. Through a grants writer we can go after more state and federal funds to supplement the road budget. We must also look to ways of repairing our 500 miles of roads on a more permanent basis by using better materials and practices so we don’t have to continuously go back and re-repair them. The county must pursue additional funds through the Department of Transportation, Community Development Block Grants and the state Legislature.

What can be done to reduce the amount of illegal dumping in the county’s rural areas? The county can enforce its ordinances on waste disposal so as to make illegal dumping unattractive. We need to provide additional transfer stations sites, which are expensive, and begin studying recycling of solid waste. We can also make solid waste disposal more convenient. Additionally, we have on the books ordinances which make it illegal to store dilapidated vehicles and junk on our properties, which need to be enforced. Finally, and maybe most importantly, we must ensure that all development within the county respects the natural beauty of the land by not obscuring vistas and access to public lands.

Is the Sheriff’s Department adequately funded? If not, how can the commission can change this situation? As the only county law enforcement agency, we must provide the sheriff’s office with the funds necessary to do the job. It appears to me the sheriff’s office is primarily providing transportation of adult and juvenile offenders. I would like to see a study done to determine how we can best provide for not only the transportation aspect, but also more patrolling. Funds for the study and additional staff may be available through the Office of the Homeland Security.

Is county government adequately staffed? As an individual who works closely with several county offices, I see from time to time occasions when additional staff would help: the Treasurer’s Office during tax time; the Assessor’s Office during assessment time; and the Clerk’s Office during election time. At other times, they appear adequately staffed. I would like to explore the idea of sharing employees amongst the different offices so that each has the help it needs during busy times.

Fred Romero

Republican

Age: 59

How long in the district: Lifelong, with a few short exceptions

Occupation: I have been self-employed for the past 30 years, as a certified farrier and rancher.

Experience: I have experience in road building and maintenance. I also operate heavy equipment. I run my own ranching business. I do contract work for New Mexico Livestock Board. I also do custom cattle work for the public.

Education: Graduate from Robertson High School, certified from New Mexico State University, basic farrier, science, certificate from Luna Community College in vocational agriculture. Still going through the school of hard knocks.

Family: Fifth son of 10 children, born to Pedro M. Romero and the late Sara Parson Romero. Father of three grown children, Fred Jr. Romero, Felipe Romero and my princess, Felishia Votawa.

Why are you the best candidate for the job? I am the better candidate for the job, first of all, because I will treat it like a job. I will earn my pay. I have all the time to devote to this job since I have down-scaled my ranching operation and semi-retired from horse shoeing. I am a people person. I can talk and listen to all and everyone. Being Republican, I will bring a bipartisan sort of government to San Miguel County. I will bring more conservative ideas. I will bring more constructive debate to decision making.

What is your assessment of the current County Commission? Can you do a better job? How?: The current commission is inefficient, and I can definitely do a better job. I will try to improve the efficiency of our resources, and I would like to see more involvement from commissioners in supervision and compensate our employees according to performance.

What is your assessment of the county manager? Wise

If the county received $1 million, how would you like to spend it? Wisely

How do you feel about county roads? Very rough and bumpy. Washed out and neglected in District 5 especially. Some places even dangerous.

If you’re not happy with county roads, how would you improve them? Be specific on funding sources and ways to cut spending. I would rebuild what needs rebuilding and properly maintain the rest and not only around election time (as claimed by many). Make sure our finance department finds and applies for available funding. We can cut spending by multi-tasking. Proper equipment maintenance will improve fuel efficiency.

What can be done to reduce the amount of illegal dumping in the county’s rural areas? Place free of charge trash bins throughout the county. Impose stiff fine on violators.

Is the Sheriff’s Department adequately funded? If not, how can the commission change this situation?

No. We could revise the budget and find areas of overspending to be used in Sheriff’s Department. Encourage inmates to do their part in reducing waste in the jail.

Is county government appropriately staffed? Pretty much so.