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The Aztec City Commission candidates discuss the arterial route and downtown. Wochit

Forum provided opportunities to meet candidates before March 6 elections

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AZTEC — City commission candidates voiced various ideas about revitalizing the downtown and improving the economy during a candidate forum Thursday evening at City Hall.

The forum provided residents with a chance to meet candidates before the March 6 city elections. Early voting starts Wednesday.

District 5 candidate Mark Lewis said the city needs to be presented in the best light possible and needs to build on what it already has to attract new businesses.

He voiced support for Sunday alcohol sales and talked about nightlife in Ouray, Colorado.

“I’m sure Aztec can pull off something like that,” Lewis said. “We just need to put our heads together and the commission should support it to whatever degree is legally possible.”

More: Forum provides opportunity for public to get to know Farmington mayor, council candidates

Victor Snover, who is running unopposed in District 4, also said Aztec can learn from other places that have successful tourism industries. He suggested having food trucks, like in Durango, Colorado. Snover identified the business incubator, or HUB, as a location for the food trucks.

“There’s lots of people who have great concepts and great ideas,” Snover said. “Every single resident here probably knows somebody that you’ve told at some point, ‘hey you should open a restaurant. You’re so good at this. Your food is so great.’”

Joel Barton, who is running for District 2, said the city should also reach out to owners of successful businesses in Aztec to develop a model for what works in the community. He also said the successful business owners could be resources for future business owners.

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“If somebody actually has a good plan or something like that or a good idea, it would be nice to be able to refer them to somebody who’s had success in this community,” Barton said.

Incumbent Sheri Rogers, who represents District 5, said Aztec has a lot of vacant buildings downtown and other communities have instated vacant building taxes to address those problems.

“You can impose a tax on them being vacant and then give them incentives for improving the appearance at least,” she said.

Rogers said the City Commission and business owners cannot revitalize the downtown on their own.

More: Aztec meeting focuses on options for revitalizing downtown

“If all they rely on is (tourists) coming in to support that business, it’s not going to work,” she said.

District 2 candidate Rosalyn Fry provided input based on her time as a coffee shop owner in downtown Aztec and her discussions with planners who are developing the Metropolitan Redevelopment Area plan for Aztec.

“When you’re the only coffee shop in town, you don’t want another coffee shop to open on Main Street and draw your customers away because there’s only x number of people,” she said.

She said the planners had statistics that showed increased businesses, including increased competition, in an area can also increase the number of customers.

“I’m not sure about that,” Fry said. “I’d probably still be worried If I still owned the coffee shop. So I think the MRA is going to have some good recommendations for us about how this can be developed in Aztec.”

Aztec’s candidate forum was the second of three local candidate forums. A forum earlier in the week gave Farmington residents an opportunity to learn about the candidates for mayor as well as one city council candidate.

A forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bloomfield High School will give Bloomfield residents a chance to meet the candidates for mayor and for city council.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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