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The Daily Press reached out to candidates vying for seats on the Artesia City Council this general election for their thoughts on the issues facing Artesia and how they would work to address them as councilors.

All candidates were emailed the same questions. Candidates who have yet to return their answers will be published over the coming week.

Running for the District 1 seat are incumbent Manuel Madrid Jr. and Manuel Barragan. The District 2 race for the seat vacated by Councilor Nora Sanchez will include Luis Florez and Jose Luis Gabaldon. Running for District 3 are incumbent Jeff Youtsey and Robert Wachter. Bill Rogers is running for the District 4 seat unopposed.

The general election will be held Tuesday, March 1. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and voters may utilize either of the two polling locations: the Senior Center, corner of Roselawn and Chisum avenues, and Faith Baptist Church, corner of 20th Street and Grand Avenue.

Absentee voting is currently ongoing through Feb. 26, through which voters may request an application be mailed to their address by contacting the city clerk’s office at 746-2122 or [email protected]

Early voting is also continuing through Feb. 26. Voters may cast their ballot early by visiting the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 511 W. Texas Ave., during regular business hours, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Manuel Barragan
Candidate for District 1
Opponent: Manuel Madrid Jr.
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Manuel Barragan

Manuel Barragan

What is your primary motivation for running for city council?

My primary motivation for running for city council is my sincere drive to serve the people of our community, our local businesses, and the industry. We are servants of the people who elect us to represent them. We need to keep in mind the cost of living continues to soar for everyone and it clearly affects our senior citizens, including moderate to low-income families.

What do you feel are the most significant issues facing Artesia today?

Money is always an issue, and we need to get the most for our money. We still have drug problems and we, as city council members, need to become more involved with our police chief as to how we may answer the concerns that our citizens have. We have a problem with homes that are deteriorating and/or have been condemned.

We can’t just condemn them but we have to work with our city government to enforce our building codes and come up with an effective method to work with the property owners on cleaning their condemned/deteriorating homes. Another issue is that we currently have a water shortage and we need to work on solutions to obtain access to other water resources. We also need to address the need for affordable housing for teachers, police and firemen.

What would you propose to do to address those issues?

My proposal is to outline projects and prioritize them on an annual basis as part of the five-year plan.

We need to find sources that will assist us in funding, such as grants, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and other nonprofit organizations. Cleaning up neighborhoods and condemned homes, which often serve as drug homes, is the beginning of making this city safe for our children when they walk home from school, the elderly when there is no one else around to assure a safe environment for them… for everyone.

Background: My wife is Ramona Anaya Barragan. We have two children, Melanie Renee Barragan-Romero and her husband Anthony D. Romero, who have both retired from the military, my son, Manuel Martin Barragan, who is currently serving the United States Army, and his wife, Melissa Reyes Barragan, and one grandson, Geraldo Barragan.

Accomplishments: Military service: four years of service in the United States Navy; volunteered for tour of duty in Vietnam from 1968-69; honorably discharged as an E-4 from USN in 1969.

Accomplishments as a city councilman: established the funding and construction of the Veterans’ Memorial at Baish Park; new Head Start building for our children to get a head start in education; new building for the Senior Citizens Nutritional Program; renovations to Guadalupe Park; approved the funding and construction of the new animal shelter; approved the funding and construction of the new Artesia Public Library; approved the bonding and total replacement of sewer, water, storm water and street facilities on 13th Street.

Luis Florez
Candidate for District 2
Opponent: Jose Luis Gabaldon
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Luis Florez

Luis Florez

What is your primary motivation for running for city council?

My primary motivation is to work towards improving the quality of life for the residents of District 2 as well as the community of Artesia as a whole. As we move forward in these difficult economic times, I, as your representative of District 2, pledge to work within my district and with the entire council and staff to make sound decisions on the tough issues that are facing us.

I will work to maintain fiscal responsibility through balanced budgets. I pledge to work alongside my fellow city councilors, mayor, and city staff, as a team.

What do you feel are the most significant issues facing Artesia today?

The issues I feel are the most significant are:

1. Crime and drug abuse.
2. Lack of youth activities and mentoring programs.
3. Lack of affordable and quality housing.
4. Community cohesiveness.

What would you propose to do to address those issues?

1. Work once again with the Drug & Crime Coalition to continue to meet the need for intervention for at-risk youth, such as supporting the 7024U program. Continue to support our public safety agencies in their efforts to keep our community safe and secure, and their efforts to reduce illegal drug activity.

2. Institute programs patterned after Latchkey, found in other communities, and promote youth physical activity/health and wellness education programs.

3. New housing developments are fine. Habitat for Humanity should be supported. However, we should also work with developers to repurpose existing substandard housing into housing that is safe, healthy and desirable. I want to improve what we have… not abandon what we don’t want.

4. Bring all districts together to share common goals to make Artesia a better, more cohesive and integrated place in which to live.

Background: I was born and raised in District 2, graduated from Artesia High School, received my professional degree in Biological Science from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, and am presently a biologist with the U.S. National Park Service. I am married to Aida Florez, and we have one son and his family, Caleb, Elizabeth and Raelin.

Accomplishments: I recently represented the U.S. National Park Service as the International Conservation Program manager. I coordinated trilateral efforts between the United States, Canada and Mexico to establish conservation programs between the three countries. I served as an appointed liaison from the U.S. Department of the Interior to the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, which serves as an advisory board to the president on U.S.-Mexico border issues of concern.

Additional comments: When elected, I will serve with integrity, fairness and justice as a city councilor from District 2. My previous council experience demonstrates that I have the ability to find the common ground on critical issues and am one who will vote in a way that represents my district while benefitting the entire community. My goal for the council is to maintain those programs that are working, while striving to find other programs that can help improve the quality of life for all Artesians. United, we can accomplish much by keeping a positive attitude, maintaining a proactive approach, and thinking out of the box when necessary.

Robert Wachter
Candidate for District 3
Opponent: Jeff Youtsey
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Robert Wachter

Robert Wachter

What is your primary motivation for running for city council?

Ever since I was young, I have always been passionate about politics. I was very blessed from the opportunities I have received from both of my degrees in political science and government administration. I am motivated to use that experience to improve Artesia and take on the responsibility to continue the excellent standards that have been instilled in our community from previous generations.

Once my wife, Kirstin, and I moved back to Artesia, I have been very involved in the community. I have never seen such a wonderful city that always comes together to better the town and helps someone in need. That in itself is motivation enough for me to contribute and invest in our community.

What do you feel are the most significant issues facing Artesia today?

Due to the price of oil, our gross receipts tax is down, which his hurting revenues for the city. This revenue is important to pay our expenses and to invest in future projects for amenities that the city needs.

What would you propose to do to a dress those issues?

Affordable housing is one issue that could assist this problem. There are over 1,000 people that commute from Roswell to work in and around Artesia. Those people spend the majority of their income in Roswell. If that money was spent in Artesia, it would help assist the economic downturn from the loss in gross receipts revenue that comes from oil service companies.

Another solution would be to give incentives to businesses to come to Artesia, whether it be lower lease payments for office space or the sale of city property to companies to move to Industrial Park.

Background: I grew up in a military family. My mom was stationed in Clovis, and I have called southeastern New Mexico home for the majority of my life. I earned by Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Eastern New Mexico University, where I met my wife, Kirstin Caton, and moved to Artesia. I was hired at Central Valley Electric and have worked there for almost four years in the engineering department. While working, I earned my Master’s in Public Administration from Wayland Baptist University.

Accomplishments: I have run many successful fundraisers for our military veterans, scholarships for students, and families in need while an undergraduate at Eastern New Mexico University. I served on the Board of Regents for ENMU and was the secretary treasurer during my term. We made many infrastructure and facility improvements. One of the most important ones besides new dorms was the pool renovation.

Since we moved to Artesia, I have been fully invested in our community. I volunteer with the Economic Development Committee and serve on the Recreation Commission. Occasionally on the weekends, I volunteer my time to assist with Artesia Clean & Beautiful and clean up the mile CVE has sponsored. I have also attended the city council meetings for the last 18 months to stay informed with current events and issues that face our community. I would appreciate your vote on March 1.

Bill Rogers
Candidate for District 4
Opponent: Unopposed
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Bill Rogers

Bill Rogers

What is your primary motivation for running for city council?

There are two projects I would like to see to completion: 13th Street Reconstruction and Water Conservation. I realize the 13th Street project is a huge inconvenience, but it has to be done. Most cities have aging, failing infrastructure. Artesia is no different. We have taken a proactive approach to replacing our aged infrastructure. The voters passed a self-imposed Gross Receipts Tax to fund the 13th Street project, and I feel an obligation to see it completed.

The water waste ordinance was passed, and now it’s on to the educational piece. I believe the city has a responsibility to educate our citizens to use water wisely. The water waste ordinance is not intended to be restrictive but promote conservative, beneficial use of the resource.

What do you feel are the most significant issues facing Artesia today?

By far, the most important issue facing the City of Artesia is our falling gross receipts revenue. Everyone is affected by the current state of our economy.

What would you propose to do to address those issues?

I will recommend that departmental operating budgets be adjusted to the level of funding available from our current revenue stream. I will oppose any action to raise taxes in an effort to offset the shortfall. I will continue to protect our General Fund reserve. Elected officials must be prudent in financial decisions to maintain the level of service expected by the citizens. Projects can be put on hold and completed when funding allows.

Background: I have been a resident of Artesia since 1990. My wife Janie and I have three adult children who reside in Artesia. I am the general manager of Pecos Valley Equipment and have been employed by the local John Deere dealership the entire time we have lived in Artesia.

Accomplishments: I am a past president of the Artesia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. I was appointed to the Artesia City Council in 2010. I was elected to my current District 4 seat in 2012. I currently serve as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. I also serve on the Infrastructure and Planning Committees. Although I am unopposed, I would appreciate your vote on March 1.