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City council candidates in Artesia’s upcoming municipal election took center stage Thursday at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center for an issues-based forum.

Each council race this year will be contested, with incumbents running for reelection in three of the four districts. All candidates were asked the same series of questions by moderator Gene Dow, with the exception of one randomly-drawn question per district.

Early voting is currently ongoing through March 2 at City Hall. On Election Day — Tuesday, March 6 — polls will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Artesians may choose the voting location of their choice: the Senior Center or Faith Baptist Church. Those unclear in which district they reside can find a map online at artesianm.gov/DocumentCenter/View/304.

DISTRICT 1

Raul Rodriguez, incumbent

Incumbent Raul Rodriguez will be challenged this year by Delia Cortez Collier.

Rodriguez has served on the city council for the past 16 years. Born and raised in Artesia, he graduated Artesia High School in 1978, and he and his wife of 34 years have three children and three grandchildren.

Cortez Collier has also resided in Artesia most of her life, graduating from AHS and raising her three children here. She and her husband, former Eddy County commissioner Glenn Collier, are retired, with Cortez Collier having spent 30 years working with three businesses and a variety of local organizations.

Aquatic Center

The first forum-wide question regarded the city’s recent approval of an agreement with the Artesia Aquatic Center Foundation, through which the council pledged to be a contributor to the construction of a new pool complex in the community. The city’s responsibility will concern the running, upkeep and maintenance of the outdoor recreation portion of the center.

Candidates were asked what they believe the city’s roles and responsibilities should be regarding parks, recreation, and general quality of life in Artesia.

“A pool is a great asset to your community but it

Delia Cortez Collier, challenger

does not bring much revenue in there,” Rodriguez said. “Luckily, we have some partnerships assisting us with this matter. I think that with this partnership, everybody will work together, everybody will make it happen, and it’s a great thing, because Artesia doesn’t do anything small.”

“The swimming pool idea I think is great, I think it will work wonderful,” said Cortez Collier. “At the beginning, everything looks tough, but we all know that you’ve got to try some stuff and there’s always solutions to it.

“It’s a vision. We have to have visions, and yes, we need to take care of our youth primarily.”

As for other recreational opportunities, Rodriguez said, as a member of the Recreation Commission and the parent of two sons who grew up in local sports programs, he has been a strong advocate for parks and the Artesia Center.

Cortez Collier stated she agrees the Center needs expansion or perhaps a larger location, and that new equipment and additional activities are also needed at Artesia’s facilities geared toward senior citizens.

Motivation

Candidates were next asked about their motivation for entering the council race, and whether their decision to run was prompted by a specific issue or concern.

“I think it’s a hard job,” Cortez Collier said. “It’s a dedication and there are lots of hard decisions to make because you know darn well that you cannot please everybody all the time, especially if you raise taxes or you have something new coming in the city.

“We need to keep focus on our city. It’s your city and mine. Kids need to have recreation, they need to have something to do and get out of the streets. We cannot allow crime to continue because the kids have nothing to do. Senior citizens need to keep busy. More volunteers, more involvement, that’s what we need. Without your input, without your votes, without your suggestions, the council would be nothing.”

Rodriguez said he was always compelled to learn what it takes to run a city and quickly discovered the scope was even greater than he’d assumed.

“No. 1, you have to have a budget, and that’s our biggest challenge,” he said. “We can only get so much money, and we have to balance that out. Do we want to have social aspects, do we want to have infrastructure aspects, do we want to have safety aspects.

“Our biggest challenge in the future is going to be infrastructure. We all hear about the housing, OK, with housing comes infrastructure, and that takes a lot of money. It’s not cheap. Yes, we rely on the developers to pay X amount of dollars, but the city is responsible for the infrastructure.”

Ordinances

The final set question concerned city ordinances pertaining to unsightly property; candidates were asked whether they felt current ordinances were effective and appropriately enforced, or whether change was needed.

Rodriguez pointed out ordinances can always be changed should strong enough opposition be voiced and outlined the monetary losses the city experiences each time they have to take an action such as foreclosing on and condemning a property.

“Jessie (Dominguez, code enforcement officer) has a tough job,” he said. “You may get a citation and say, ‘Why didn’t the guy down the street get one,’ well, that’s one person. So you say, ‘Well, hire more people,’ but if we hire three or four code enforcement officers, the budget takes a hit.

“I think the ordinances we have in place are working for us, but of course, if you want changes, you need to come forward and address those changes.”

Cortez Collier said she feels many of the community’s property issues could be solved by people taking pride in their homes.

“You know what you have to do to your yard to keep it decent,” she said. “If we took a little bit more pride in our surroundings and our neighborhoods, I think we would lower the burden of the city people having to tell us we need to get that taken care of. Take responsibility for what you own, don’t let somebody else tell you what to do.”

Putting in the Time

District 1’s candidates were additionally asked how they would assure their constituents they could devote the time necessary to be an effective member of the council.

“I can assure you I’ve got the time, I’ve got the willingness,” Cortez Collier said. “I’m not afraid of it, I’m willing, I’m able. I’ve always given to the community and I feel I can still give some more, and I want to do that.

“I want to let you know that I will hear you. I’m not just going to listen to you, I want to hear you, in English or Spanish. One thing I don’t like is procrastination. We need to keep people informed, plan, put in input, get input back, then make a decision. This is where you people come into the picture. You need to get involved, and I’m asking you for that. We need to make our voices heard. Together we can do a lot of things.”

“It takes a lot of time, and I’ve devoted a lot of time,” said Rodriguez. “You can judge me by my voting record, judge me by my attendance at meetings. I take great pride in being a city councilor. There are also committee meetings we have to attend, and right now I’m serving on Police and Fire, and Recreation. I have made the time to attend my meetings and have all the proper information so I can make the proper decisions to represent District 1 now and in the future.

“I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure, which is trying to please everybody. We are candidates seeking election; we don’t have all the answers, we’re not perfect, and not everybody’s going to be pleased with our decisions, but I can tell you one thing, serving this community is an honor. It’s a pleasure. I would like to continue serving this community for the next four years.”

DISTRICT 2

Michael Mondragon, candidate

Current District 2 Councilor Nora Sanchez came out of retirement to fulfill the term of former Councilor Jose Luis Aguilar, who passed away unexpectedly in August 2016. As such, Sanchez will not be seeking reelection.

Michael Mondragon was the only candidate to file for the seat in December. A math teacher and the head boys’ basketball coach at Artesia High School, Mondragon is an AHS grad and former athlete who came back to the community to raise his two young children.

“I love Artesia, I love being a Bulldog,” Mondragon said. “I think the main reason I’m running is because I want to bring change, not necessarily to the council — I think they’re doing a great job — but just because I think nowadays in society, everybody wants to complain but nobody wants to do anything, and I want to get involved.

“I want to make sure we’re taking care of our youth, and I also want to take care of our elderly. I’m a young man who’s going to work night in and night out to make sure this town is a better place, and I feel like I have experience on both ends — being an educator, I understand youth issues, and I’m also able to communicate with our elderly.”

George G. Mullen filed in January as a write-in candidate for the District 2 seat, meaning residents would have to enter his name on the ballot — exactly as displayed above — to cast their vote for him.

George G. Mullen, write-in candidate

Mullen, who has four children, also attended school in Artesia, returning to the community after retiring from the U.S. Navy.

“If you’re voting for me, you’re voting for a community-focused individual,” said Mullen. “I’m concerned about more so seniors, young adults, kids, in addition to things going on in the city overall.”

Aquatic Center

Mullen stated he understood the partnership aspect of the aquatic center agreement meant the monetary responsibility would be shared among the entities involved, and said that as far as other recreational endeavors were concerned, he would like to see improvements made to the Artesia Center.

“The Center is a great place, but I’m in favor of the Center being a better place by enlarging the Center or building another center,” Mullen said. “Recreational activities in Artesia are lacking for young adults and kids in that age group of 12 through 17 or 18. Recreationally, we could do things like boxing clubs, any kind of activity clubs, art training. I think we need to do a little bit more for our young people and our young adults especially.

“If we had a facility that actually held the number of people that actually utilize (the Center), we’d probably be a lot better off. I know we get outside donors sometimes but it still has to be one of those things where we chip in our part as a city. I think that’ll be one of the biggest things we can do outside of the aquatic center is to do something about our recreational center.”

Mondragon said he was pleased with the city’s decision to help fund the construction of a pool, stating it was important for the community to be able to provide swimming lessons for its youth, as well as a place to play.

He also expressed his belief the city should play a role in ensuring children have the facilities and programs available to keep them active and learning.

“We’re the City of Champions, and our facilities should reflect the City of Champions,” Mondragon said. “If that means finding a way to fundraise, finding ways to get private donors involved, whatever we need to do to do a better job of providing for our youth.

“We also need to not only be teaching kids how to play sports but educating them. Not everybody’s into sports, so maybe do more with arts, more with music, construction, technology — why can’t we offer an IT class for young kids; they know more about tech than we do half the time. The sky’s the limit, I think we just have to put our heads together.”

Motivation

Mondragon said one of the primary factors that motivated him to run for council was a desire to make Artesia an even more appealing place for people to live.

“I don’t think we do a good enough job sometimes of working together with different entities, whether it be the school system, the hospital,” he said. “If you’re out between 6 and 7:30 in the morning driving to Carlsbad and Roswell, you see hundreds of cars driving into Artesia. Imagine if those people lived in Artesia, what that would do for our Gross Receipts Taxes, for our housing.

“We need to do a better job of keeping people in Artesia and bringing people to Artesia. If housing is the issue, we need to find a way to make housing more affordable. I don’t have all the answers, but if elected, I will work hard to make sure those cars are staying here, working here, spending money in Artesia.”

Mullen said he was motivated by a desire to get things done on behalf of the community.

“I know it’s a team effort, and I’m a great team player,” he said. “I think I’m the person to be able to work with all the other council people and the new mayor, of course. We’re restricted by whatever fiscal budget we might have, but I just want to continue to be that community-focused individual I always have been but now everybody gets to see it.”

Ordinances

On the topic of city ordinances, Mullen joked he might have to get rid of his weeds before he’d be eligible to comment but encouraged homeowners to properly take care of their properties.

“I think the code enforcement individual is doing the job he can do based on what he has to work with,” Mullen said. “You could do a weed review over here on the north side and on the other side do a junk car removal inspection, and by the time you do that one, then the weeds are over here and the junk cars are over there.

“It’s one of those things where pride in your community comes into play. Each and every one of us has to have the pride in our own selves to do what’s necessary to take care of our weeds, junk cars… the community needs to participate, not just government.”

Mondragon said he would be interested to see what is and isn’t working in terms of code enforcement, and make adjustments from there. He also suggested making more personal contact with individuals in violation and exploring the option of involving the community in its upkeep.

“We’ve got a lot of churches in this community who’d love to donate time, basketball programs that can get out there, maybe help the elderly with the weeds,” he said. “It’s all about working together and making this town a better place, and tapping into resources. Money doesn’t have to be the only thing we rely on, let’s rely on each other.

“Also, knock on these doors. Ask why there are cars there, ask the questions, understand why, and then resolve the issue based on the response.”

Water Woes

The District 2 councilors were asked their opinions of the city’s actions taken following last year’s water woes.

“I know several people don’t want chlorine in the water, but I’ll tell you this, businesses were getting killed whenever we had no water,” Mondragon said. “Whatever we need to do to make sure E. coli is not going to be in the water is what we need to do. I know they’re doing their best job to make sure it doesn’t happen, and we’re too good of a town and too big of a town for this to happen to. It’s embarrassing.

“I think if we want people to stay in Artesia, like I said earlier, we’ve got to make sure our water is drinkable and make sure we’re doing everything possible.”

Mullen said he supported the council’s recent 20-percent water rate increase as a means of funding future infrastructure improvements.

“Within our city, we have some very old pipes,” he said. “We have some that’ve been here longer than I’ve been here, and we’ve got to expect for those to begin to deteriorate and possibly cause a problem. If we don’t have some type of program where we begin to replace all this old infrastructure, we’ll have more problems than we had last summer with E. coli.

“The money has to come from somewhere, and the citizens are the individuals that are utilizing the services. In order to do that, we have to have the infrastructure necessary to get the good, clean water, which would benefit every one of us. We as a community have got to understand nothing comes free, and money doesn’t fall out the sky, so we have to buckle up and take care of ourselves as a community.”

The candidates closed by expressing their desire to be a part of helping the community move forward.

“I love this town with all my heart,” Mondragon said. “I moved around a lot as a young kid, I’ve been in a lot of communities, and our community is the best in the country, I believe that. I want to serve it, and I want to work for you to do everything within my power to solve all these issues.

“The council does a great job, they just have a huge task. There’s a lot of tough decisions to be made, and we can make them and make this community the best community in Southeast New Mexico.”

“Participate in the process,” said Mullen. “I’d love for you to vote for me, but if you are participating and don’t vote for me, I’ll just be glad you’re participating, because that’s how you get things done. I think that I would be beneficial to the community and its future growth.”

DISTRICT 3

Kent Bratcher, incumbent

District 3 incumbent Allen Kent Bratcher will be challenged on this year’s ballot by Tommy Bailes.

Bratcher was born and raised in Artesia; he and his wife returned to the community to raise their children. Bratcher has been a member of the city council for eight years.

“I care about this community,” he said. “I care about what we do and how we do it, and we always find a way to do the best thing. I do have some things I want to see through.”

Bailes is residing in Artesia for the second time in his life and said his love of the community drew him back. He is a member of the local motorcycle community and said he has been proud to work with CASA, Grammy’s House, the American Legion, Cruising for Vets, and other organizations through motorcycle clubs.

“There are a lot of things we do, but there is still a lot that needs to be done, and I think I’m the guy to do that,” he said.

Aquatic Center

As one of the councilors who voted in favor of the new aquatic center, Bratcher said he felt the opportunity to join with other entities to accomplish the goal was “too big and too good to pass up.”

“When we were discussing this at council, the question came up, ‘How are we doing to pay for this?’

Tommy Bailes, challenger

And I said, we always seem to – and people use City of Champions – come through in the end. We always come up with the money for the library, the animal shelter, Baish Park, and we do things right and do it in nice fashion.

“I think we can make it fair and equitable with all the partners involved, and it will be a nice addition to the community, because I do believe this city deserves a pool.”

On the subject of quality of life, Bratcher said he would like to see work done to improve existing facilities, such as youth baseball fields, as well as development of new events such as Smokin’ on the Pecos and Balloons & Tunes, which bring revenue to the city.

“A lot of the infrastructure in Artesia is old, and we also have to address that,” Bratcher said. “The water fund is a self-supporting fund. They bring money into the city by charging for water, and that helps us update valves, put in new hydrants, run new water.

“We’ve got a new subdivision going in out on 26th Street and new houses right off 25th. A lot of those people complained about water pressure, so we as a council have a plan of putting a water tower at Jaycee Park that will help with that pressure.”

Bailes was also in support of the pool project and said he would like to see the city improve its parks and do more for its elderly.

“The kids in this town don’t have enough to do to keep them out of trouble,” he said. “That’s why you have taggers on the sides of buildings, kids out roaming the streets. We have to give kids something to do, and I think the pool is a great start. I work at the hospital, so I’m privy to a lot of the conversations as far as from the rehab side of it and how much it’s going to help them, especially with the elderly and being able to do water treatments.

“We have a lot of parks here, but we have a lot of parks that are in disrepair.”

He mentioned gopher holes at Jaycee Park as a problem and also said people in the community need to spend more time with its senior citizens.

“There are nursing homes, volunteer,” he said. “Go over there and spend some time with them. Elderly people and the kids are the ones that we need to be taking care of.”

Motivation

Bailes said there was no problem with the current city leadership that prompted him to run for council.

“It’s just because I’m a community kind of guy,” he said.

Bailes said he has spent time organizing events such as a toy run for the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home in Portales.

“I wish we had something like that a little closer to home, because there are a lot of displaced and misplaced families, broken families, that need the help,” he said. “I just want to stay involved and want to be more involved. It’s what I do, it’s what I thrive on.”

Bratcher said he wants to continue the projects he’s been a part of starting on the council, including infrastructure improvements.

“We’ve started some infrastructure issues, such as the water treatment, the building of a new water tower, now we’re in partners with building this pool, we rebuilt 13th Street, and I think I had orange barrel nightmares at one point – there are still projects out there that we’ve got to do, and I’d like to see that come to fruition.

“I served the City of Artesia for 17 years as a firefighter and left as fire marshal, and I really care for this city. This is my home. The last two times I ran, it was unopposed, and this time, it’s nice to see all four races are contested. That means there is some involvement out there, and we need more of that. I think everybody care, I just think some of us care at a different level.”

Ordinances

Bratcher says he feels the city’s ordinances are working as well as they can but that there is always room for improvement.

“Jessie (Dominguez, code enforcement officer) does a good job, but it’s a daunting job,” Bratcher said. “We have a list every month of houses he writes up for weeds and inoperable cars. We still have a lot of opportunities for improvement as far as cleaning up some of these areas in the city, and we’re getting there, but it’s a daunting task.”

Bailes agreed with statements made by some of the other candidates as per pride in one’s property and suggestions that groups could be found to engage in abatement efforts.

“People just need to start taking more pride in their place,” he said. “Housing here is not cheap. Some people end up buying a place for $30,000, some people end up buying a place for $300,000, the price of that should not matter, it’s your place. Clean up around your area.

“I like what was said earlier about getting community service involvement from kids in trouble with the PD, kids who get in trouble in school and are running bleachers could get out there and be pulling weeds. One code enforcement officer might be something that needs to be looked at. That’s a lot for one person to cover.”

Words of Wisdom

The District 3 candidates were asked if they had any advice for Raye Miller, who is running uncontested for the position of mayor.

“I know Mayor (Phillip) Burch has done a bang-up job for a long time, and I think if he just stays in those kind of footsteps that he’ll be fine,” said Bailes.

“Raye’s a very smart man,” said Bratcher. “He’s got a tough act to follow. I think if Mayor Miller will look at his council and see their strengths – there’s people out there that are numbers people, infrastructure people, people who care about public safety – and play to their strengths, and don’t put them on a committee that they really don’t care about.

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving as chairman of Police and Fire for seven years, I’ve always been on the Personnel committee, I’m currently on the Planning committee – make sure people are interested in the committee that they’re placed on, and then be approachable as a mayor. Just be approachable and be transparent, and I think he’ll do fine.”

In closing, Bailes reiterated his desire to be more involved in the community, while Bratcher encouraged citizens to continue to become more involved in local government.

“I’m big on community stuff,” Bailes said. “I think there’s a chance here and an opportunity with so many people now running for the offices all the way across the board that if there’s something that you want changed, there’s an opportunity to get it done.

“I’ve said time and time again, whether you vote for me or not, the point is get out there and vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a point to complain about it afterwards.”

“Sometimes we get apathetic as citizens, and if you look at some of the numbers, you’ll see things like only 25-percent voter turnout,” Bratcher said. “25 percent of people are making the decisions for the whole town of 11,000. We need to get out there and vote, exercise your right.

“I hope that my record of being responsible, being at the meetings, being at the committee meetings, making some of the tough decisions we’ve had to make, stands on its own merit, but again, we need you to vote, and that is the biggest thing. We’ve had public meetings on water where three people show up. And that’s kind of disheartening. We had meetings on 13th Street during the design phase where only five people showed up.

“Sometimes if we push a hot button, we do hear about it, but you’re either doing a really good job or people just don’t seem to care. I care. I care about what the city means to me. We made decisions that are going to be for the next 20 or 30 years, and this is my home. I plan on being here till they put m down in the ground.”

DISTRICT 4

Terry Hill, incumbent

District 4 incumbent Terry Hill was unable to attend Thursday’s forum due to a scheduled surgery. Hill currently serves as Mayor-Pro Tem on the council as well as on the Budget and Finance, Infrastructure and Planning committees.

His challengers in March will be Kenneth Hart and Kevin Baggerly.

Hart attended Artesia High School and served in the U.S. Navy.

“I adopted this as my home quite a long time ago,” he said. “I believe the City of Artesia deserves strong, dedicated leaders, and I think that I could be a great benefit to the City of Artesia. I believe I’d do a very good job, and that stems mostly from the fact I truly just believe in this town.”

Baggerly graduated from AHS in 1994, where he was the Bulldog mascot, and returned in 1999. He has worked as manager of the Landsun Theater and director of the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center, and previously worked for KSVP radio.

“I tell my kids all the time, you could be rich, you could be poor, you

Kevin Baggerly, challenger

could go to school, not go to school, but the number-one thing I want you to do is get involved with your community somehow, some way,” Baggerly said. “I’d really like to be involved in the community, and I think city council is the right place to be.”

Aquatic Center

Both candidates were in agreement on the benefits of a swimming complex in Artesia.

“I think we all want a nice town to live in – not too big to be unmanageable, but growth is good and sometimes it brings about change,” Baggerly said. “Just like with the library, sometimes cities need to work with the private sector to make things happen.”

“I went to some of these recent city council meetings to kind of understand what’s going on with this partnership, and there is this need, I think, for somebody to be in charge of it,” said Hart. “What was decided by this group was ultimately, once everything’s built and everything’s dealt with, that the pool’s going to belong to the city.

“I think the city is the entity that should be maintaining it. It just kind of makes sense, and in general, I believe the city should be responsible for providing some of those general facilities for entertainment and use.”

On the topic of other quality of life improvements, Hart said he hopes to see the city continue to partner with private entities to bring in options, while Baggerly advocated for a dog park and a recycling program.

Kenneth Hart, challenger

“I think that the city council should be doing is encouraging private enterprise, private people, to come in with activities and things for kids to do, because the city can’t foot the bill for everything,” said Hart. “But what they can do is see if there’s a way we can provide incentive for someone to come in with a program and say the city will make available the recreation center for me or the city will allow me to promote this on their site.

“We need to be finding ways to encourage those private entities to come in and help us out with that.”

“I’m not a big dog person, but I know a lot of people like dogs and there are a lot of dogs who love to walk,” said Baggerly. “A dog park I think is desperately needed here in Artesia. Maybe also, backing up a little bit, make every park in Artesia dog-friendly, with dispensers for little plastic wraps so people can pick up after their dog.

“Also, a recycling program that actually works. I think that the biggest thing when people look at recycling, they say it’s no going to work, there’s not any money in it, or people misuse the units that are set out by throwing trash in them – I think by putting our heads together, we can make it cost-effective.”

Motivation

Hardt said his primary motivating factor in running for council was to become more involved.

“A lot of times when somebody pops up out of nowhere and wants to run for city council or school board, quite often it’s because they see some problem and want to step in and fix it,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t have anything like that.

“For the past several years, I have volunteered a week of my time to teach young men from across the state government processes: city council, county commission, how state government works. It occurred to me that I haven’t really got a lot of personal experience in it myself. It kind of struck a chord with me that I should be involved just like I’m asking them to be involved.”

Baggerly said his hope was to help the city develop better communication with its residents.

“I think one of the challenges that the mayor and the city council have had over the last year, specifically with water, is communication,” he said. “Letting people know exactly what is going on here in Artesia. I know media sources – the newspaper and radio – notified people there was a boil water alert. In other places like Albuquerque, Hobbs, Roswell, Carlsbad, they made it seem like it was Flint, Mich. They made it out like there was absolutely no drinkable water, which was incorrect.

“But not everybody has Faebook, not everybody can get to the internet, not everybody gets the newspaper or listens to the radio, so how to communicate with the citizens of Artesia better is an issue, and I would like to help overcome that obstacle.”

Ordinances

Baggerly extended his stance that the city could do more to communicate with its citizens into the subject of ordinances.

“Nobody wants to get that letter,” he said. “Knock on somebody’s door. Work together. That’s the thing about local government, it’s not national or state government. Really, the best form of government is the government you don’t see day in and day out, they’re not in your life every day.

“With it being local, it’s your neighbors and your friends. As we get generations down the road, less and less people are talking. It needs to be about community once again.”

Hart said from what he sees around the community, it would appear the city’s beautification efforts are working.

“I really don’t see a whole lot of weeds, I don’t see a lot of abandoned cars, I don’t really see a whole lot of dilapidated buildings,” he said. “So as far as whether or not the ordinances are strong enough, I have to say we’re on the right track. Certainly there’s some enforcement going on, or I wouldn’t be seeing that kind of movement.

“When it comes to what I would want to change, really that would kind of depend on what’s brought to us, what do people have a problem with. Because the whole idea of unsightly buildings is very subjective, and if nobody is upset about something, that tells me nothing’s broken and why would I want to fix it.”

Involvement

District 4’s random question concerned their level of civic involvement and how they plan to help their constituents.

“Ever since I was little, I was in 4-H,” Baggerly said. “4-H teaches you those four H’s: hands, head, heart, health for greater service. Get out in the community, make sure you are participating in some way.

“Somebody asked me when I was debating whether to run for mayor or city council, ‘Where would you make the greater impact?’ I said, ‘Well, the city council votes and the mayor only breaks a tie.’ So I think I could make a greater impact being on the city council, and being a part of this community will never stop. It’s where I live.”

“I have, up to now, been locally uninvolved,” said Hart. “But one thing I would like to say is that win or lose with this race, it’s my intent to be more involved moving forward.

“For the past 15 years, I’ve been a member of the American Legion, I’ve started going to city council meetings so that I understand the issues and what’s going on, and win or lose, I plan on continuing that.”

In closing, the council candidates pledged their commitment to work for Artesia if elected.

“I think one thing I’d really like you to come away with with regard to myself and my candidacy is I really love Artesia,” said Hart. “I really do think it’s the best place to live. I just want an opportunity to work for Artesia, I want to do my best to help Artesia continue to be the great city that it is, and, when opportunities come around, to improve.”

“The joy of democracy is that you guys get a chance to get out there and vote and participate,” Baggerly said. “Tell your friends, tell your family – get them registered to vote, get active, because the council can’t do it by themselves, the mayor can’t do it by himself. It takes the entire city. There’s lots of stuff that’s going to be happening here. In a couple of years, there could be something so big it would make you forget about the E. coli situation, just like we forgot about the blizzard. So think about it when you get to the polls on March 6, and when you see my name, consider it, please.”