Two city council races contested

PNT Staff Report

Two of the four Portales City Council races in the March 4 municipal election will be contested.

In Ward B, incumbent Gary Watkins is being challenged by Michael Martinez.

The race for the Ward D council seat is a little more crowded, with incumbent Michael Miller along with Keith Thomas and Eddie Hiner declared as candidates.

Incumbent Alfredo Bachicha Jr., in Ward A, and incumbent Donald K. Shafer, in Ward C, will be running unopposed.

Miller is seeking his second full term. He was appointed to fill Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr’s. seat after he was elected mayor in 2002. Miller successfully ran in 2004. The former Portales fire chief, who now works as a lobbyist and consultant, said the council has a lot going on right now and he wants to continue to be a part of that work.

“I have lots of roots here,” Miller said. “This city’s given me a tremendous amount of opportunity and I want to work to give that opportunity to others.”

Hiner, who owns several Portales businesses, ran unsuccessfully in another ward two years ago. He said it’s important for more people to get involved in the process and give voters a choice.

“I’m in business and what’s good for Portales is good for me,” Hiner said.

Thomas, who is a partner in Portales Home Medical, is running for the first time.

“I see a lot of things we could do better,” Thomas said.

He said he would focus his efforts on improving streets and public safety and would press for the Ute Water Project and a highway bypass of downtown.

Watkins and Martinez were unavailable for comment.

Tuesday was the only day for filing in the municipal election. The four council seats are the only municipal positions on the ballot this year.

City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry said she will certify the list of those filing today and post them by Thursday. She said candidates will draw lots for ballot position at 5 p.m. Thursday.
According to Martinez-Terry, write-in candidates are accepted until Jan. 22, though their names will not appear on the ballot.

She said her office will begin distributing absentee ballot applications on Jan. 29 and absentee ballots will be released on Feb. 6. She will continue sending out absentee ballots until Feb. 29. All absentee ballots have to be returned by 7 p.m. on election day.

Absentee voting in-person begins Feb. 13 and will end Feb. 29 at the city clerk’s office.