City commission candidates — District 2

CNJ staff

Candidate: Ben McDaniel
Age: 27
Occupation: Operations manager of McDaniel’s Furniture, Floor Covering and Appliances
Prior elected positions: None

—What do you want to see happen to Hotel Clovis and how do you propose we get there?
Because my family’s businesses have been established in the Clovis community for nearly 60 years, I hold the historic downtown area very dear. For this reason, I think that the loss of such a historic landmark as Hotel Clovis would be tragic.
Unfortunately, the hotel is in need of some expensive renovation, including the costly removal of asbestos at an estimated $700,000. This cost would apply, even if the hotel were to be torn down.
The hotel could be the cornerstone of overall downtown revitalization.
A private developer could be actively sought to renovate the building into viable office space and attract new business to the area. The hotel already has some large open spaces that could be used for smaller business gatherings and weddings. In addition, the city could use this building for office space, an expanded law library, or even to develop after-school programs for children in the area.

—How would you propose we attract new business to town?
There is great expectation that the new mission for Cannon will attract new business to the Clovis area. However, I do not think that the city should place all its eggs in this one basket. Clovis Community College is an established institution in the Clovis community, and should be promoted as a resource to increase the educational level of the community. This will, in-turn, attract companies requiring a work force with higher education degrees and certifications.

—What is your long-term vision for the city? And how will you plan for that?
Clovis already has an established “City of Clovis Comprehensive Plan,” created based on citizens’ visions, concerns, and ideas. This can be viewed on the city’s Web site. This plan includes many great ideas with timelines for the city’s improvement.
My personal long-term vision for the city does not vary greatly from that which is outlined in this formally established plan. Therefore, it is my opinion that the city needs to more closely align its development with this plan.
In addition, I feel that the city needs to develop and nourish many forms of industry, not relying solely on one for the city’s well-being. To help accommodate increased industry, the Ute Water Pipeline needs to be completed. Addressing the current crime rates would enhance appeal to potential future residents.

—What do you think the city should do to address water conservation?
The city has already taken some vital steps toward conserving water, including the effluent reuse pipeline project, which will recycle wastewater. I feel that citizens should also be held partly accountable for water use. Therefore, encouragement such as incentives for the installation of water-saving devices should be implemented.

—What do you consider the city’s greatest need today? And how should we resolve that issue?
With the increased population and industry as mentioned above, the current water shortages must be addressed. The Ute Water Pipeline must be completed. City officials need to assert more pressure at the state and federal levels to ensure that this impending water crisis is addressed.

—Do you think the city needs more or fewer ordinances? What are some ordinances that need to be added or removed?
I think that the city needs fewer ordinances. Many of the current ordinances are convoluted to the point that understanding cannot be achieved. The city could benefit from a committee of commissioners, city employees, and citizens to review the city codes and ordinances to achieve greater clarity and consolidation.

Candidate: Fred Travis Van Soelen
Age: 37
Occupation: Deputy district attorney
Prior elected position: Elected to City Commission four years ago.

—What do you want to see happen to Hotel Clovis and how do you propose we get there?
I would like to see the Hotel Clovis restored and in use. How we can help make that financially viable for someone is the tough part. The city has applied for grant money to be used for remediation, so that we can hopefully make it more attractive for sale.
My hope is that someone with an idea for restoring the hotel will come along and bring it back into some sort of use.
I think the possibilities are numerous: a museum, office space, apartment space, a restaurant, or even returning to using all or part of it as a hotel.
What the city should do and is doing is making it as attractive as possible for sale, and teaming up with others, including Clovis Mainstreet, to market it. I would not like to see it come down, because of the prohibitive cost and also because of the hotel’s historical value.

—How would you propose we attract new business to town?
The city has in recent history been proactive in attracting industry and business. Keeping Cannon Air Force Base going with the change of mission was the biggest thing we have done to keep our economy growing. But we need to expand our industrial base, which will then bring the jobs, and that will in turn bring in new businesses.
The city has worked with the CIDC in creating the Industrial Park, and two bio-fuel industry firms have recently started up in Clovis. We also have given incentives, as we did with Southwest Cheese, for industries that come to our area and pay good wages for employees.
I will work to see that we continue all we can do to create a favorable environment to not only expand the industrial base and attract business to Clovis, but to also support our local, established businesses.

—What is your long-term vision for the city? And how will you plan for that?
With this limited space, one of my visions for Clovis is maintaining and increasing our quality of life with improvement and expansion of our parks and recreational areas. While it is in the early stages, there is a plan for building a new golf course, using effluent water, which will save the city money, and I would then like to see the city use the existing municipal golf course to expand Hillcrest Park and the zoo, and add more ballparks and soccer fields. This would go a long way toward satisfying a great need for more space for our kids’ softball and soccer programs. In addition, work is well under way toward building a new wellness and aquatic center, at the site of the old aquatic center, which will then be the centerpiece to what would, I believe, be the best-looking and best-used park between Albuquerque and Lubbock.

—What do you think the city should do to address water conservation?
The city has been taking great strides in recent years, looking down the road, to conserve what has to be our most precious resource. We recently adopted a water conservation policy, and we also have been working toward building an effluent reuse pipeline, which would use treated water, not potable but usable for watering, for city parks and public spaces. This has a double benefit of conserving water, and in the long run, saving money for the city.
We also hope to use money from a proposed Superfund settlement to help conserve area playa lakes, which will help recharge the aquifer.
We need to continue to be creative in finding as many ways as we can to conserve water in the city.

—What do you consider the city’s greatest need today? And how should we resolve that issue?
There are many needs, but the greatest has to be finding a sustainable future water supply, because our businesses, industries and agriculture are all dependent on having enough water.
For some time now, even before I came onto the commission, the city has been part of the Ute Water Project. We have been reserving water rights, and working with state and federal agencies to obtain the funding to build a pipeline to supply water from the Ute Reservoir to our area, which will go a long way toward making sure we have a dependable water supply many years down the road.
The Ute Water Project is the most viable plan in the works, and along with water conservation measures, will go a long way toward ensuring our future, and we need to continue the course we are on to finish this project.

—Do you think the city needs more or fewer ordinances? What are some ordinances that need to be added or removed?
Ordinances are necessary to implement the laws that regulate traffic, business and public safety. I am in agreement with the saying, “That government is best which governs least.”
Just about all ordinances and laws passed by government entail infringement, to some degree, on people’s liberty.
For example, to keep from having accidents and great loss of life, we give up the freedom to drive any way we want by passing traffic ordinances.
The city, in 2005, passed the first methamphetamine precursor ordinance proposed in the state, which made it more difficult to get the products needed to make meth. Since then there has been a dramatic drop in the number of meth labs busted in the city and surrounding area.
The reduction in the danger these meth labs generated was worth the imposition on people to now buy certain products from behind the counter at a drug store.