LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

FARMINGTON — Bloomfield residents will have the chance to select a mayor, two councilors and a municipal judge on Tuesday during the city elections. Here are the candidates' responses to a questionnaire from The Daily Times.

Mayor

Benny Kling

Occupation: Retired environmental enforcement officer for the state of New Mexico

Previous political experience: Candidate for city council in 2016 while on hospice.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected? 

I want to stop the law suits. Stop the acquisition of the purchase of Bloomfield’s portion of Farmington’s electric utility. I want to Re-establish the city employee pay and benefit losses from the last three years. Re-hire full time fire fighters that were let go because of the legal costs associated with the lawsuits.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city? 

The mayor and council has had the wool pulled over their eyes for twelve years by past city managers; the second source water system failure, hiring of street contractors such as Advantage Asphalt which I helped indict for fraud, the total neglect of the waste water treatment plant, the need for up-grades in the water treatment plant, potential environmental fines associated with lack of oversite, just to name a few. These thing have to stop! 

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending.  If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts? 

Without seeing the current budget (if we have a current one this week) I don’t think we can cut anymore. If we stop spending on legal fees for law suits we would have some money. We need to re-establish a good working relationship with our neighboring communities and help each other to promote the four corners area and promote us as an industrial power source potential. The courts have determined Bloomfield has the right to purchase our own electrical utility. We don’t need that headache when we can’t take care of the employees we have! With the eventual closing of the four corners power plant, we need to be working together in investing in power generation, such as solar and wind generation right here in Bloomfield. Doing so would help both Farmington and Bloomfield keep our electrical cost down and generate revenue for Bloomfield. These things we can do if we work together.

Cynthia Atencio

Occupation: Administrative assistant

Previous political experience: None

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected? 

I will work for the citizens, business owners, and employees of the City of Bloomfield to be their voice in making decisions that affect the City. I will work with the City Manager and Department Heads to find ways to run more efficiently to provide the best services for our Citizens. I want the City of Bloomfield to be a competitive employment opportunity for our employees, to attract and retain the best employees.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city? 

Funding is the biggest challenge that our City faces. After talking with Citizens and Business owner, the priorities are first, our Water and Wastewater systems. We need to provide safe, clean water and safely manage our waste water. In order to accomplish this, we will need to address all the issues and secure funding.   

Secondly our Citizens and Business owners are concerned about criminal activity. I believe we can work together with the City Manager and Chief of Police to address these issues. 

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts?

Again, I will work with the City Manager and the Department Heads to find ways to run more efficiently while still providing quality services to our Citizens. This needs to be a combined decision. 

Bloomfield needs to prepare for busts, by diversifying our income when times are booming. Now during this “bust” period, we need to focus on finding ways to help our Business owners to increase their sales in order to increase our gross receipts. If we focus on what we currently have and try to make it better, we can help our community. Bringing in and helping small businesses is another way to both diversify and increase income.

Scott A. Eckstein  

Occupation: Retired law enforcement officer. Being retired has been a huge benefit to the citizens of Bloomfield, as it allows me the opportunity to meet nearly any time over various city issues, meet with citizens, business leaders, and attend board meetings.  This would be extremely difficult if not impossible, if I had a full time job.

Previous political experience:  

  • 2004 – 2006; Bloomfield City Councilor
  • 2006 – Present; Mayor of Bloomfield
  • 2009 – 2016; San Juan County Commissioner (District 3)
  • 2013 and 2016; Chairman of the San Juan County Commission                        

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

I will continue to work on the four goals that I set back in 2004 when I ran for City Council. They are to continue to work on beautification of the city, attract new businesses (economic development), be prudent with tax dollars, and keep citizens informed. Progress has been made on all of these goals, but work is left to be done. 

I will continue to work with property owners to bring more industry to Bloomfield. I will also continue working on diversification of our local economy, with more focus on the retail sector. Although city government cannot force businesses to move here, what we can and have offered is friendly communication with potential businesses, and the ability to cut through the red-tape, and make locating in Bloomfield as easy as possible. I will continue to make Bloomfield business friendly.

My ultimate goal is to see Bloomfield as a self-sufficient city, where our residents can purchase most anything they desire right here in Bloomfield, without having to travel to a neighboring city to spend their money, thus keeping their tax dollars here in Bloomfield.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city? 

The biggest challenge currently facing the city is the local economy. This has been very challenging for the last few years, with gross receipts revenues dropping as much as 34%, due to the decline in the oil and gas industry. City staff, the city council and I have faced this difficult challenge head on and made necessary reductions and adjustments in order to present a balanced budget, while still providing most services that our citizens enjoy and expect.

We continue to face challenges with aging infrastructure that must be constantly evaluated, fixed or replaced on a very tight budget.

City Council

Cecilia Gunnell

Occupation: Office and facility services coordinator II

Previous political experience: Minimal political experience most of which was registering voters, campaigning and interviewing residents. Considerable amounts of Community Volunteer Projects, Services, Donations and Events including but not limited to:

  • Special Olympics Four Corners Invitational- August 2012- 2017
  • New Mexico Mission of Mercy Dental Mobile Clinic 2 day events- Rio Rancho October 2014
  • Navajo Ministries Foster Care Christmas Program Project 2014-2015
  • Kiwanis Club Clothes for Kids 2-day distribution Events November 2013-2017
  • Coats for Kids Month Long Coat Drive- November 2003-2017
  • Echo Food Bank Pantry worker -December 2003-2017
  • St. Mary’s Catholic Church Bloomfield Thanksgiving Meal Distribution Project 2016
  • USSSA Four Corners Fast pitch Softball Association 2010-2017
  • Energy Week May 2017-2018
  • Oil & Gas Fair ConocoPhillips 2 Day Booth 2014-2015
  • Childhaven Foster Care Program-Foster Parent 2008 & 2009
  • Created a successful project via employer that donated/distributed tens of thousands of dollars in office supplies, equipment and furniture to over 80 churches, nonprofits and teachers in San Juan County.
  • Along with personal monetary contributions to every bizarre, festival, craft fair, silent auction, donation requests and fundraisers held by Bloomfield’s Community Churches, Schools, Private Citizens and nonprofit Organizations as well as multiple located in Aztec and Farmington. i.e. Friends of the Pool; Boys & Girls Clubs; Boy Scouts; Ronald McDonald House; etc..

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

  • Implement Community Programs and Services
  • Improve Current Processes
  • Increase Transparent Communication

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?

  • Economic Decisions
  • Revenue
  • Water Infrastructure
  • Programs & Services
  • Morale and Communication

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts?

Bloomfield needs to cut fees accrued due to lawsuits/court costs/studies, unfortunately we are running pretty lean so cutting may not be an option. We are going to have to focus our energy as a whole to generating revenue and utilize that revenue in an appropriate manner.

You prepare by assuming there will be no economic booms which is a proactive measure, we are passed that we are now in the reactive mode and should act accordingly.

DeLaws Lindsay

Occupation: Horsemanship teacher and trainer

Previous political experience:  I have had the privilege to serve as a councilman for the last four years and before that as a commissioner for the planning and zoning commission all for the great city of Bloomfield.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?  

My goal is to continue as a part of a council who can come together with the information that has been gathered and provided for us and try to make the best overall decisions for our community.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?  

The decline in our economy has been the biggest challenge for the city of Bloomfield. It seems that almost everything else is hinged on whether or not we have enough revenue coming in to balance the budget and meet the expenses of the city.

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts? 

Yes it’s true that we have been hit harder economically than Aztec or Farmington. I would never even begin to make a decision on where to make cuts until I had the chance to review and discuss all the facts and information with the rest of the council. I believe we need to continue to encourage businesses to come to Bloomfield. We have been very blessed by the oil and gas resources that we have available in our community. I also believe we have much more to offer through recreation and tourism.

James Elwin Roark

Occupation: Retired

Previous political experience: Three separate terms on city council

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?                                                                                                                         

I would hope to see the city maintain its current course of debt payment as well as payroll, necessary equipment needs, equipment maintenance, street repairs, as well as maintaining buildings and utilities.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?                                                                                                               

To keep all of the above at current levels of budgets while building up reserves in order to keep the city financially stable.

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts?

Reduce debt load and build reserves to be able to survive the “Bust” times.

Richard E. Kemp

Occupation: Retired journeyman lineman, working foreman with the city of Farmington

Previous political experience: I am not a career politician

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

Try to bring unity back to our city.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?

Money, over spending, one-sided thinking

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts?       

Stop out of hand spending. Stop studies on projects that the city cannot handle.

Kenneth W. Hare

Occupation: Managing partner Blanco Basin Land & Cattle Co. LLC

Previous political experience: Served on the San Juan College Board for 11 years as a board member, vice-chairman and chairman; served as president of San Juan Economic Development Service; charter member of Four Corners Economic Development; founding chairman of the Work Force Development Task Force for Four Corners Economic Development; member of the San Juan County Planning and Zoning Task Force, founding member of 4 Corners Innovation, the research arm of San Juan College.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

Stabilize the finances of the City; seek new sources of revenue; develop a needs-based strategic plan; implement a 50-point strategic economic development plan to develop small and micro businesses; implement a metrics-based management by objectives system; develop a grants program to secure infrastructure funding; prioritize infrastructure repairs and upgrades; establish a "town hall" system to encourage citizens input on our critical needs; review and upgrade our cyber security protocol; review and improve our bond rating; revitalize the planning and zoning process; bring resolution to the electrical system purchase question; resolve our primary and secondary water sources issues; study the feasibility of a recycling program for those residents who have requested to participate.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?

A very distressed budget; a distressed infrastructure system (water, wastewater plant, crumbling water lines, water tanks, sewer and sewer treatment plant); resolve the electrical system purchase issue; lack of comprehensive economic development plan; dependency on an oil and gas industry that is transitioning resulting in loss of jobs and revenue; loss of revenue; closure of the power plants and coal mines resulting in loss of jobs for Bloomfield residents; improving the esthetics of the city; projected loss of population over the next 10 years; maintaining our fire and police systems to guarantee public safety; lack of an efficient transparent and community-based management plan.

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts? 

Spending cuts must be determined after thorough examination of the budget and by prioritizing City needs (debt service; sewer and water; public security; infrastructure repair and maintenance). Everything after these priority issues will have to be ranked by critical necessity. It is imperative to focus on operational efficiencies to control costs and maximize revenue. Purchases and new projects, unless essential, will have to be postponed or canceled. Continuing to spend money on legal fees for the purchase of electrical infrastructure must be critically and comprehensively examined.

Bloomfield must develop, implement and commit to a long term comprehensive economic development plan to diversify our economy. Bloomfield must also develop a thorough strategic plan that recognizes establishing financial reserves during boom times. Prudent spending is essential. The strategic plan must prioritize the city needs for immediate and long-term financial and infrastructure stability of Bloomfield.

Sue Ann Finch

Occupation: I am a woman who fills my days always working to be a better wife, mother, grandmother and concerned citizen of Bloomfield.

Previous political experience: I have always exercised my freedom to become educated on the issues and the candidates who are running for office and vote.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

  • I would like to represent the citizens of Bloomfield by informing them on the issues of the city.
  • I would like to bring economic growth to Bloomfield, by encouraging businesses to make Bloomfield their home.
  • I would like to be able to work with the other council members and the city employees to build the morale of the city
  • I would like to be able to discern the needs of Bloomfield and work to accomplish them according to the needs and necessity of the city government.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the city?

The biggest challenges are the economy and budgeting the monies to be able to support the city. To be wise in our spending and to avoid all unnecessary spending.

Bloomfield has had to make difficult decisions while cutting spending. If the economy continues to decline, where would you cut spending? What do you think Bloomfield can do to prepare for the economic booms and busts? 

I have spent the last several weeks interviewing the Bloomfield city department heads. I have reviewed the budget. I feel that these wonderful people have endured pay cuts, taken on two or three more responsibilities to help support the city of Bloomfield. Some department heads have tried to be creative in requesting monies to their departments. We are at the bottom of the bucket and we will have to be very wise in our expenditures.

I feel that Bloomfield should use common sense when making decisions to be able to strengthen our city.

Municipal judge

Sadie Smith-McDaniel

Occupation: Licensed clinical social worker

Previous experience: As a Magistrate Compliance Officer from 2010 to 2012, I monitored court ordered requirements for offenders in the areas of substance abuse, domestic violence, DWI, and other crimes. This included case management services; referring probationers to social resources in the community for assistance in rehabilitation, I determined when it is necessary to recommend revoking offenders or if other possibilities are available upon a violation of the terms of their probation, or assist in the modification of court orders when necessary. I assisted as needed in courtroom procedures during court sessions and give an objective opinion on what my office recommended for the offender upon a probation violation. My education and employment as a Clinical Social Worker after leaving Magistrate Compliance has given me a unique view of our community and how it is affected by substance abuse, socio-economic issues, and cultural differences. Having experience in the legal system as well as the mental health and social functioning field I will be able to provide fair justice and follow the law according to each crime without bias or judgment.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

If elected, I would like the public to receive prompt, fair and courteous treatment by court personnel, court cases to be resolved within time standards without sacrificing the quality of justice, and the public to have a better understanding of the court process. As Bloomfield Municipal Judge I will want to make sure we are reducing costs where possible and improving case processing time.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the courts?

There are two obstacles I see as a challenge right now in Bloomfield. The first is budgetary constraints and the second is lack of access to resources.

It is my understanding that currently, the Municipal Judge oversees DWI offences and other crimes instead of having a formal municipal probation program in place. This is due to lack of funding for the courts. I would like to research the topic and see how well this functions as a policy. There may be grant funding available to help incorporate a case management system which could streamline the court process.

The second obstacle I see is a lack of resources; this would include mental health care, public transportation, parenting support, employment opportunities, etc. The lack of these resources can increase the community’s chances of coming into contact with the court because there are not systems in place to support families and individuals before problems become a legal matter.

 

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.daily-times.com/story/news/local/bloomfield/2018/03/02/bloomfield-mayor-councilors-and-judge-city-election-march-2018/385019002/