Aztec City Commission candidates answer questions about business, guns and alcohol

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — Four Aztec residents who hope to serve on the Aztec City Commission outlined their qualifications and answered questions during a candidate forum on Feb. 18 at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

The forum came about halfway through early voting. The election is March 3 and early voting will continue through the end of the month at Aztec City Hall.

The candidates who attended included former mayor Michael Padilla Sr. who is running against business owner Jessica Polatty, who currently serves on the city’s economic development advisory board and previously served on the now-defunct planning and zoning committee.

Padilla and Polatty are running against each other for the seat on City Commission currently held by Commissioner Sherri Sipe. Sipe has decided not to seek reelection.

In the race for the other seat on the City Commission, incumbent Austin Randall and high school science teacher David Porter both attended the forum. Like Polatty, Porter also served on the planning and zoning committee.

David Porter and Jessica Polatty participate in a candidate forum, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, at the Aztec Senior-Community Center.

Topics ranged from the economy to past City Commission decisions, including the decision not to pass a resolution declaring Aztec a Second Amendment Sanctuary City last year. Aztec was the only San Juan County municipality that did not pass the resolution stating that its police department would not enforce gun-related laws that some considered unconstitutional.

Both Randall and Padilla expressed support for the sanctuary city movement, while Polatty and Porter said the city police must enforce the state laws. Polatty added that the laws can be challenged in court.

"I am a very strong Second Amendment Sanctuary City supporter," Padilla said and his supporters in the audience applauded.

At the end of the forum, one person asked the four candidates how they would encourage businesses to remain open on Sundays.

All four candidates pointed to Sunday alcohol sales, which is a ballot question. Restaurants in Aztec are currently not allowed to serve alcohol.

Incumbent Commissioner Austin Randall and former mayor Michael Padilla Sr. participate in a candidate forum, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Aztec.

Randall said it’s hard to get businesses to locate in Aztec without Sunday alcohol sales. He said hotels like to have establishments nearby that offer options like alcohol.

“I don’t drink,” he said. “I hate the taste of alcohol.”

However, he said allowing restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays would help the city.

“You look at the towns around us and they are doing it, so we’re watching the traffic go right on through,” Polatty said.

At right, forum moderator Scott Michlin asks former mayor Michael Padilla Sr. a question while incumbent Commissioner Austin Randall listens, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, during a candidate forum at Aztec Senior-Community Center.

The four candidates also said it would be good to recruit a business to operate a gun range in Aztec, although none of them supported the idea of the city owning one.

“Shooting is a great pastime,” Porter said. “Plus we need to practice up for deer season.”

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

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City Commission candidate David Porter participates in a forum, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Aztec.