Candidates talk issues at forum

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Candidates in next week’s municipal election listen to moderator Grant McGee at the opening of Tuesday’s KTQM/KWKA political forum at the radio station.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

A little more than half of next Tuesday’s city election candidates got together for an evening with local radio personality Grant McGee and questions from Clovis residents.

Tuesday’s KTQM/KWKA political forum, broadcast from the station on the outskirts of south Clovis, featured two city commission races and the municipal judge race.

In attendance were judge candidates Jan Garrett and Bonnie Bryant, District 1 commission candidates Juan Garza and Brenda Miller and District 3 candidates Fidel Madrid and Leo Leal.

Len Vohs, running unopposed in District 2, was not in attendance, nor were judge candidate Steven L. Garcia and all three District 4 candidates — Randy Rodriguez, Dan Stoddard and Furgus Tunnell.

Garza and Garrett were the only incumbents at the forum.

McGee said the forum was for information-gathering purposes, and he was apolitical with the exception that he wanted people to vote.

It was an issue highlighted by Madrid, when a call-in question was authored by current District 3 Commissioner Bobby Sandoval on the district’s most important issue.

“The biggest issue is, we have to get people out to vote,” said Madrid, a retired parcel delivery employee. “We need to get united as a district, whether they vote for my opponent or myself. We need to get behind whichever candidate wins.”

Leo Leal, who recently retired from Cargill Meat Solutions, felt needs in the district were primarily infrastructure.

“We need to build more parks and recreation for the kids,” Leal said. “We also need more business here. We don’t want it to look like a ghost town.”

Most of the questions on the night were answered by Garza and Miller, and there wasn’t much disagreement throughout the forum that went just shy of two hours.

The issue that drew some debate was about the number of unmarked intersections in Clovis. Bryant, who has retired after 35 years in insurance work, said the intersections needed more signage.

“I would like to see the city put up at least a yield sign on every block,” Bryant said. “The overall result we would get would be wonderful. You almost have to stop at every one of those streets.”

Garrett also said she would like the problem to be addressed.

“I think it has been addressed,” Garza replied, citing city traffic studies. “Even with yield signs, people are bad drivers.”

In response, Bryant said signage would at least help police officers determine fault in accidents.

Other issues covered Tuesday included:

• The city’s lack of enforcement for handicapped parking violations. Garrett and Bryant said it is incumbent on the police to write citations for those matters, and they can only rule on what comes to their courtroom.

In her previous experience, Garrett said, the violators are younger and she leans toward ordering payment of court costs ($41) plus community service.

“Those children don’t have any money,” Garrett said, “and I don’t see a point in making their parents pay” when community service is an available punishment.

• Entertainment for incoming Cannon Air Force Base personnel, and helping those personnel have a positive perspective.

Miller recommended local entertainment like the Clovis Community College’s Cultural Arts Series.

“When they go out to the events,” Miller said, “they get a feel of what Clovis is about and what Clovis can present.”

• Top issues for Clovis. Miller and Garza said the city needs to work on housing for military members. Madrid said in the wake of winter weather, “We need to have these potholes fixed, whether we have the money or not.”

• The Sunday escape attempt at the Curry County Adult Detention Center and the shakeup that resulted in the sheriff’s office taking the jail over. Only Garza replied, and he said the city shouldn’t get involved.

“It is a concern for the citizens, but it is still the responsibility of the county,” Garza said. “They need to make sure they’re doing everything they can to protect the citizens of Clovis.”

• The possible closure of the Gidding Street post office. Those in the forum said the post office needs to stay open, and Miller said it, “seems to be a steward of the city.”

Garza said the city commission has been in discussions with Washington officials on keeping the post office open.