Las Vegas voters say they want change in town

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By David Giuliani

Change is in the air — at least among those Las Vegas voters surveyed during Tuesday’s municipal election.

After voting at Don Cecilio Martinez Elementary School, Mollie Armijo said one major issue influencing her vote was the natural gas issue. Over the years, Las Vegas’ gas rates have been higher than other nearby towns.

“I’m on a fixed income, and I don’t have enough money to pay my gas bills,” she said. “That’s a concern.”

Another Don Cecilio voter, Tammy Romero, also said heating bills were a concern. She said she also voted to reduce the compensation for City Council members and the mayor — an issue on the ballot.

Romero said the current compensation — at $19,854 a year, higher than council members in most New Mexico cities — is unfair. She noted that council members get paid even if they are missing many meetings.

“I don’t get paid for not going to work,” she said.

Romero said she voted for the lowest-pay option on the ballot — $85 per meeting.

Herman Ulibarri, a Don Cecilio voter, said he, too, wanted council members to make less money.

“They’re making too much for what they’re doing. We need change in Las Vegas,” he said.

After voting at Carnegie Library, where the mayor, the Ward 3 council seat and the council pay issue were on the ballot, Mel Root said one of his big issues was natural gas rates. He said he was concerned with a recent state audit report’s conclusion that the city overcharged customers by $10 million over six years.

He noted that part of the money was transferred to the general fund to cover general city costs, which he called a “cowardly” way of doing things.

Margie Padilla said she was a vote in favor of change. She said she has had problems with the city on planning and zoning issues.