Portales municipal candidates expressed similar concerns for the community of Portales at the election forum Monday night at the Yam Theatre. Opinions did differ on how issues within the city should be resolved.
After opening statements in which candidates introduced themselves, forum moderator Robin Fornoff asked the candidates a series of questions:
When asked what the term “quality of life” means to them, candidate answers varied.
“Quality of life is basically something different to each and every one of us,” Ward D incumbent Keith Thomas said. “But to me, quality of life is the ability to enjoy your life. In my business (owns medical supply store), I might provide a walker to someone who ordinarily couldn’t get up and walk to the door. We need to make our city a better place to work, live and play. And I think we can do that through a lot of different ways.”
Thomas said he feels the first step to improving quality of life is to start looking at industry then develop that industry. He said with the industrial park, better jobs can be provided in Portales.
Ward D candidate Jeffrey Burmeister agreed with Thomas that industry is important but said quality of life goes beyond local business.
“I think that what we need to do sometimes is look beyond our city and see what that quality of life is (that is strong) in other areas, so that we can appreciate what we have here,” Burmeister said. “A lot of people go to Lubbock (for medical care) and we probably have no need to compete with a large university across the board like that. But there are a lot of things we can do to improve and advance our health care here in Portales, like trying to attract additional doctors and clinics and health care centers.”
After quality of life was addressed, each candidate was asked a question based on numbers they had drawn.
When asked if the city is doing everything possible to ensure residents will have water for decades to come, Ward A candidate Michael Lucero said he believes there are a variety of solutions to the problem with water.
“To be honest, I don’t think anyone can ever do enough to conserve water. I think with the education and funds we have, we’re doing the best we can,” Lucero said. “There’s always more that we can do to conserve water. You can always do more research on it; you can always find more ways to conserve water. It’s a wide open area.”
Ward A candidate Donovan Finley was asked what he would consider the most important qualification and priority of the new community development director to replace Greg Fisher.
“Talking about someone that I think would qualify would be someone who’s been to college and graduated and have a masters and understand the complexity of the issues that are gonna face someone who is developing an economy such as ours,” Finley answered. “We’re faced with a lot of different businesses in terms of dairies, farmers, local business owners, that all have to be accounted for, so it’s a very complex issue that I don’t know much about. I’d like to see something come in that’s a private enterprise that would make Portales a better place to live.”
Ward A incumbent Alfredo Bachicha Jr. was absent from the proceedings.
When asked how a small town can evolve while also keeping its charm, Ward B incumbent Gary Watkins said Portales having a small growth level is what attracts people to the town.
“Portales has a small growth level up until a couple of years ago when Cannon started coming in, but that is what attracts people to Portales is our small town atmosphere and I don’t think we have that much of a problem with crime,” Watkins said. “People like that atmosphere.”
Ward B candidate Matthew Hunton was asked what organizations he was a part of and how they have benefited Portales.
Hunton told of his involvement with the Portales Rotary Club and how they have donated books to Portales schools and brought local parks up to Little League baseball codes.
“We’ve done some great projects for this community,” Hunton said of his organizations, which also include the Roosevelt County Ambassadors. “I think we do live in a great community. I believe our community can be better; we can grow; we can prosper, but it’s going to take everybody. There’s only so much a handful of city councilors can do.”
In closing statements, candidates thanked the audience for coming and listening to their standings on Portales issues.