Forum provides opportunity for public to get to know Farmington mayor, council candidates
Candidates discussed ways to address public intoxication especially in downtown Farmington
- Nate Duckett and Roland Berkey are running for mayor of Farmington. Janis Jakino is running for city council.
FARMINGTON — Farmington mayor candidates Nate Duckett and Roland “Bill” Berkey and City Council District 4 candidate Janis Jakino answered questions during a candidate forum Tuesday night at the Farmington Public Library.
Jakino is running against Patrick Manchester for city council. Manchester was unable to attend the forum due to illness.
Voters will choose the next Farmington mayor as well as two city councilors and municipal judges during the March 6 election. Early voting begins Feb. 14.
A large crowd filled the room and some people stood along the walls to hear the candidates’ responses.
Topics included social issues like alcoholism and economic issues like the potential closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022.
The candidates identified outdoor recreation, tourism, San Juan Regional Medical Center and San Juan College as important economic opportunities. Jakino said agriculture could also be developed to help with job opportunities after San Juan Generating Station closes.
“The possibilities to replace the jobs are endless, we just need to capitalize on what we already have,” she said.
Candidates had different ideas about ways to address the problem of public intoxication, especially in the downtown.
Duckett said the city cannot “arrest our way out of that problem.” He said the city needs to address the companies that sell alcohol.
"We need to put pressure on those owners of those establishments to make them understand that they are part of the problem and if they keep selling to drunk people — which is against the law — they're going to lose their license," Duckett said. "This problem is huge. It's not something simple and it requires a community who cares and can bring solutions to the table."
Berkey told a story about a family he has helped. The husband struggled with alcohol addiction.
“I do not know the answer, but I know I love those people and I want to do all I can,” he said.
Jakino said the city needs to work with state lawmakers to make public intoxication a crime so that the police department will no longer have its hands tied.
“When someone is inebriated, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re homeless or that they are doing something criminal,” Jakino said. "They just happen to be intoxicated and on the street."
Jeanine Bingham-Kelly, the city council candidate who is running unopposed in District 3, attended the event, but she did not participate in the forum.
Aztec residents will have a chance to hear from Aztec City Commission candidates during a forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Aztec City Hall, 201 W. Chaco St. Answers to economic and social issues questions from Bloomfield mayor, council and municipal judge candidates can be found at bloomfieldnm.gov.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.