On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved Mayor Scott Eckstein's appointment of Bernadette Smith, Arnold Montoya and DeLaws Lindsay to the Planning and Zoning Board of Directors.
T.J. Richards, vice-chair for the board and public works supervisor for the county, asked the council about the criteria for appointments.
“I was told by Donica Sharpe, (Planning & Zoning Director) that three openings to the board were available,” Mayor Scott Eckstein said. “I believe these three appointments are people who are easy to get along with and represent a good cross-section of the community.”
The board's seven members are responsible for planning and zoning, economic development, subdivision review and compliance, right- of-way acquisitions, building permits, development for long- and short-range plans, evaluating land use proposals for conformity and insuring compliance with all laws and documentation of subdivisions, Richards said.
The board reports and makes recommendations to the council.
“We want people who serve to bring good ideas and have a concerted interest in Bloomfield, since it is a volunteer position,” Eckstein said. “They all come from different backgrounds. Each would bring different input and interests to the board. They've all shown a desire to serve the city.
DeLaws Lindsay lives in Bloomfield and gives horse riding lessons to kids from around the county.
Bernadette Smith grew up in Bloomfield. Since 1990, Smith has owned and operated Holloway Income Tax Service on West Broadway.
A long-running booster of the city, Smith has actively volunteered for many community events and has only missed two of the last 23 Bloomfield Days celebrations.
“I am just looking forward so much to serving on the planning (and zoning) board,” Smith said. “It will be exciting to see what positive direction we can all go together.”
Smith served on the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors for 18 years before leading as director for five years until her March retirement.
“I have always and continue to want to see the city of Bloomfield grow,” she said. “It's important that we maintain and support businesses we already have while inviting new ones to open up to make change an exciting and manageable part of this community.”
Like the other appointees, Arnold Montoya, owner of the Wooden Nickel on West Broadway, is a regular fixture at council meetings and other city functions.
“I live in the city, have owned my business for the last five years and am concerned about the businesses and care for the community, you know?” Montoya said.
Montoya was surprised by the appointment but is happy for the opportunity to serve on the board and make a difference in the city he has called home since 1980. He grew up in Aztec.
“Like I always try to do, I will go in there with both feet and do the best I can,” he said.
Before opening his business, Montoya, a military veteran, worked for 18 years for El Paso Natural Gas Co. as a well attendant.
Montoya's business hosted a car show during the Bloomfield Days celebration last weekend to benefit Blue Star Mothers, a veterans group, that buys phone cards to help keep military families connected.
“Many military are out there and isolated, so it's a good cause helped by a really great organization," Montoya said. “My wife, Marcia, is the backbone of (our efforts) for the event. She has got more connections than AT&T.”
Richards and current members — Kevin Mauzy, Mark Herrera and Flossie Jordan — will meet next month to welcome the mayor's new appointees.
Herrera, who has served on the board since 1995 and works in the oil and gas industry, attended the meeting Monday night with his son, Chad, a newly promoted sergeant with the police department, who was honored as city employee of the quarter.
The first order of business will be to find a new chairman to replace Burch Howard who retired in March after serving 19 years.
“I'm looking forward to working with our new members,” Richards said. “We are a relaxed group who are available to the public to field questions and try to help.”
The board, like the community it serves, is made up of residents who know each other, went to school together and want the best for the city as it grows over time.
“We all want what's best for the citizens and businesses in this community,” said Richards, who also owns a dry cleaning business on First Street.
“Bloomfield's not just a ‘be from' but a ‘live here' kind of town. We love life here.”
James Fenton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.