By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer
Local real estate agent Shawn Watson was sworn in Thursday as the new city councilor for Ward C.
Watson replaces Don Shafer, who retired in March, shortly after being re-elected, because he was moving to Clovis.
Mayor Orlando Ortega appointed Watson to the seat, and the City Council ratified the appointment Tuesday during its regular meeting.
By state law, a council vacancy may be filled by appointment or through a special election.
After graduating from Portales High School in 1994, Watson joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He then served nearly seven years with the New Mexico State Police, where he was appointed to the K-9 Unit.
Watson, 31, said he has been interested in entrepeneurship since high school, when he had a successful lawn service. He credits Sondra and Clifford Hugg for helping him establish the business.
While working as a state police officer in Eagle Nest, he and his family operated a gift and coffee shop. Watson served on the Eagle Nest Economic Development Board and helped refurbish three abandoned buildings on Main Street, which later became home to successful businesses. He also volunteered with the Eagle Nest ambulance service.
He obtained his New Mexico real estate license while working in Las Cruces and moved back to Portales a little more than two years ago to join his mother, Delores Gentry, in her real estate business.
Watson said he is interested in improving the downtown, which will help attract more businesses, hence more jobs, and help improve housing in the community.
“I don’t come to the council with an agenda,” he said. “I come with a willingness to listen to what people want for the community.”
“I’m very respectful that I’m appointed and not elected,” he said.
Ortega said the position was open to anyone who was interested. He said he received several letters of interest, resumes and phone calls, and most people had some strengths.
However, Watson’s interest, energy and experience earned him the appointment, he said.
“I liked his responses to my questions. He was very eager to be involved,” Ortega said.
Watson becomes the youngest member of the council.
“Age is not a factor, but it’s nice to have young people interested,” Ortega said. “I have confidence that he’ll do a good job.”