CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks George and Mille Lees of Clovis listen to city commissioner candidates answer questions about issues Monday at the Clovis-Carver Public Library. About 40 residents attended the forum.
By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
All the Clovis City Commission candidates agreed water is an important issue. All but one agree Hotel Clovis should be renovated.
Moderated by Kevin Robbins of KRMQ-FM, the eight candidates in the March 4 municipal election also answered questions Monday collected by the radio station that included city infrastructure, what are the top issues the city faces, future growth and beautification in Clovis.
The forum at the Clovis-Carver Public Library was hosted by KRMQ-FM and the Home Builders Association of Eastern New Mexico.
• Incumbent Randal Crowder said along with finding new water sources and recycling water, repairing the city’s wastewater treatment plan needs to be addressed.
A builder/developer, Crowder said he supports the city’s five-year plan to develop Hotel Clovis and find investors for it.
He said the city and the county need to work together to address the beautification of entrances into the city.
He said the city is addressing future growth through the Local Management Growth Organization, which will work to implement the city’s comprehensive plan.
“I would say, steady as she goes, we’re on track,” he said.
• Rosalie Riley was the only candidate who opposed renovating Hotel Clovis.
She said the city needs to move on and tear down the structure that has sat in decay more than 20 years.
On growth, she said she believes the city needs to address the buildings that are left behind as the city expands.
“We cannot continue with, ‘Keep growing north and leaving behind blight as we do that,’” said the business owner.
She supports looking for alternative sources of water and buying water rights from farmers.
She said the city needs to pay its employees better and consider better ways to seek bids to repair city streets.
• Ben McDaniel said while water is a primary concern, the city has been proactive in finding alternative sources of water.
He said the city has basic infrastructure problems such as the sewage system and streets.
He said the city should plan for future growth cautiously.
• Incumbent Fred Van Soelen said the city needs to expand its infrastructure to accommodate development. He said finishing the Ute Water pipeline and effluent reuse pipeline projects and increasing pay for firefighters are issues facing the city.
He said the city needs to find new industries so its economy can be independent of Cannon Air Force Base, the agricultural and railroad industries.
“The city has done a good job of working with the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation and the Chamber (of Commerce) to attract new businesses and attract new industries,” said Van Soelen, a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office. “We have to realize that industries bring in jobs, and jobs bring in more people.”
He said the city should apply for grants for abating the asbestos in Hotel Clovis and prepare it for sale.
• Fidel Madrid said as the city develops to the north, the south side of the city should not be forgotten.
“I think we need to go back to the south side,” said Madrid, a driver for a parcel delivery company.
He said the city should find investors to develop Hotel Clovis and needs to lobby harder in Santa Fe for funds to fix city streets.
He also said the city needs to create more recreational facilities for its youth.
• Incumbent Bobby Sandoval said the city needs to be prudent as it grows in spending money and following its comprehensive plan.
He said the city’s main issues are finding alternative sources of water and fixing its roads.
The city is doing an excellent job of handling its budget, said Sandoval, a former postal worker.
He said while the city does not have the money to renovate Hotel Clovis, it should attract investors who do.
• Chris Bryant said repairing the wastewater treatment plant and better pay for city employees are the main issues the city faces.
“We have to look at ways of keeping these employees,” said the restaurant owner.
He said the city has to depend on the state for funding to fix its streets.
• David Briseno said as the city grows, it should address quality of life issues to attract businesses and people to Clovis.
“I know one of the things they look at is the quality of the schools; they’re going to look at the quality of recreational activities available not only for young people but young adults,” said Briseno, who works fore Clovis Municipal Schools. “We’re going to have to look at the total picture to in order to attract those industries and keep them here.”
He said infrastructure, salaries of police officers and firefighters, and water and economic development are issues the city should address.
He said the city should be conscious about water usage of industries possibly coming to Clovis.