Heflin believes water supply is council’s biggest issue

Compiled by Tony Parra, PNT Staff Writer

The following is the first part in a question and answer series of candidates running in the municipality election on March 7. Candidates are asked questions regarding the city’s future.

Chad Heflin, 24, is running for the Ward B position in the Portales City Council. His opponent is the incumbent, Robert De Los Santos.

1. In your view, what is the most pressing issue the Portales City Council is facing?

In the next couple of years there are going to be important issues discussed that will determine the future of Portales, such as a local landfill and addressing housing needs.

However, I feel the most pressing issue that faces the Portales City Council is the Ute Water Project, because if we run out of water we’re probably not going to have to worry about a local landfill and/or upcoming housing needs.

2. What is your philosophy on economic development for Portales?

I really like the way Portales has developed in the last five years with many new businesses opening and many new people making Portales their home. However, I think the biggest problem Portales faces when it comes to economic development is that business owners have to take a huge risk when deciding to open a business.

Portales is just big enough that many business owners want to take the risk, but just small enough to make them leery. If people keep moving to Portales, I feel we will start to see many new businesses forming which will have a greater success rate of staying open.

3. Should we continue to pursue the Ute Water Project? Why or why not?

This is one of the toughest issues that Portales City Council will face in the next couple of years. When looking into the Ute Water Project, I take an open mind to any new ideas. However, this is the reality of it, Portales will run out of underground water. It may not be for another twenty years, but there is no argument that the underground water is going to run out.

Therefore, I feel we should continue to openly pursue the Ute Water Project because it will give Portales an endless supply of water. In the meantime, if there are any new ideas on how to supply enough water for Portales so we would never have to worry about a water issue again, I would definitely be up for it, but as of right now I don’t see that we have any other alternatives.

4. With the solid waste contract with Clovis set to expire in three years, should the city reopen its own landfill?

What other measures should play apart in exploring this problem?

It would be easy for me to sit here and tell everyone that we need to construct a landfill for Portales. However, if it were that easy we would have already done so. There would be many loops that Portales would have to jump through in order to get its own landfill, not including what it would cost the citizens of Portales.

If by chance we were to jump through those loops and come up with the funds, the questionable fact still remains as to where we would be able to locate the landfill so that it would meet all the EPA’s requirements. I am not against Portales developing its own landfill — I just feel at this time the cost does not outweigh the need. I think the people of Portales have gotten used to the idea of having their garbage transported to Clovis, and to some extent have gotten used to the increased amount of their water bill. If we were to develop our own landfill, it would further increase this total. What I would like to see happen is for Portales to renew its contract with Clovis, but for a longer and maybe a less expensive term.

5. How should the city go about addressing housing needs?

The housing situation in Portales is a difficult problem to solve until we know the future of Cannon. It is difficult because as of right now we need more housing for the people moving into Portales, as well as even more housing for the university students. Although many small businesses have made an effort of building new apartments, as well as remolding old properties, in order to help with the housing problem, I still think that construction will slow down in the next couple of years in order to see what will happen to Cannon Air Force Base. If Cannon does not find a new mission, it will open up the already existing base housing in Portales. This could flood the market with too many properties and not enough people. In order to address the housing needs in Portales, we really need to wait and see what happens to Cannon Air Force Base.