FARMINGTON — Councilman George Sharpe said he won't run for a third term on Farmington City Council next year. He said he wants to take a break from public life to focus on educational programs for students.

Councilman Jason Sandel, who will wrap up his first term by March's election, said he will run for re-election.

Mayor Bill Standley said he is undecided on whether he will run for an unprecedented fourth term. Councilors and the mayor serve four-year terms.

The three city leaders' seats will be up for grabs in the March 2 election. Terms of councilors Dan Darnell and Mary Fischer expire in 2012.

Sharpe is recruiting

Sharpe, investment manager for Merrion Oil & Gas, has served almost 16 years on the Farmington school board and City Council.

Sharpe wants to focus on teaching an engineering mentor class; teaching ninth graders about education's importance through the program "It's Your Life," an anti-methamphetamine program for students; and the annual Energy Week, where students learn about energy through Farmington Museum exhibits.

He counts the following among his City Council accomplishments:

  • Formed and adopted a new development code that led to higher quality developments.

  • Added police officers and joined the San Juan Safe Communities Initiative to address gang and drug problems.

  • Built Fire Station 6 to expand fire protection services.

  • Built Bluffview Power Plant to help meet growing electricity demand from Farmington Electric Utility System customers.

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  • Expanded a wastewater treatment plant to meet environmental regulations and raised water and wastewater rates to provide revenue for aging infrastructure.

  • Led private efforts to build the city's frisbee golf course and to create the Dinosaurs and Drill Bits oil and gas exhibit at the Farmington Museum.

  • Widened Piñon Hills Boulevard and approved the Foothills Drive area traffic plan.

  • Opened the Sycamore Park Community Center to meet the needs of a poor south Farmington neighborhood.

  • Created a Metropolitan Redevelopment Area to facilitate downtown area redevelopment.

    Sharpe could not take credit for any particular achievements, he wrote in an e-mail.

    "I did nothing on my own," he wrote. "A lot happened during my tenure that I'm proud of, but it probably would have happened with or without me."

    Choosing projects to budget amid a weak economy for the next one or two years will present challenges to future councilors, he said. He said a "long list" of projects included the regional animal shelter, new fire stations, new roads around the Foothills Drive neighborhood, extending Piñon Hills Boulevard and renovations to the Farmington Civic Center.

    Sharpe is seeking a fiscally conservative, "level-headed" candidate to fill his seat who will make sound decisions "not based on the screaming crowd noise... but based on the best interest of the city at large." So far, a few people he asked declined to run.

    Standley undecided?

    Standley, though he said months ago he would run for re-election, has not made a formal announcement. The three-term mayor expects to decide later this month.

    Challenges ahead include maintaining services, such as police and fire departments, for Farmington residents in a weak economy without raising taxes or increasing fees, said Standley, a retiree who has worked in management for retail and construction companies.

    "We are strongly committed to not cutting any of those services," he said about public safety.

    Other challenges include funding future projects such as installations of pipes carrying drinking water.

    The city also must look at how to draw new businesses unrelated to industries such as oil and gas to diversify Farmington's economy, Standley said.

    The city also must find investors for downtown redevelopment and show them what kind of changes the city wants, he said.

    Sandel seeks second term

    Sandel, executive vice president of Aztec Well Servicing Co., wants to sit on the council another four years.

    "I felt like I was able to get quite a bit accomplished on behalf of the residents," he said. "I look forward to additional possibilities and looking for additional opportunities for improvement for our community."

    Sandel said he has fought drug and alcohol abuse in Farmington by passing a ban on high-gravity beer and fortified wine sales that was his initiative.

    He also helped develop plans for Foothills area roads. The city last month began a $2.2 million roads project to extend College Boulevard and Hood Mesa Trail, part of plans on which Sandel, planners and residents worked, he said.

    He also has pushed for annexation of property so the city can grow, he said.

    Upcoming challenges include diversifying Farmington's economy to spur job growth, he said.

    "The global economic crisis that we're experiencing right now, and the more specific impact on the natural gas industry, really puts an exclamation point behind the need for diversification in Farmington," he said.

    He also wants to improve telecommunications for businesses, including in-creasing Internet bandwidth, and to better the Four Corners Regional Airport and improve the civic center or build a new one.

    Opposition unformed

    It's not yet known whether Sandel will face opposition or who will run for Sharpe's seat. No one has announced a bid publicly yet and candidates can file only on Jan. 5 in the city clerk's office to run for Council.

    Candidates must bring a certified copy of their voter registration to the clerk's office dated after Nov. 24, when councilors are scheduled to pass an election resolution required by state law that establishes polling places. They also declare Jan. 5 which seat they are seeking.

    Steve Lynn:

    slynn@daily-times.com