CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Tim Ashley of the High Plains Patriots, right, addresses the crowd at the Masters Center conference room. The organization sponsored a forum to meet the candidates for the March 6 municipal election.
A first chance to meet candidates for the March 6 municipal election dealt with driver’s licenses for illegal immigration, quality of life and top issues for each commission candidate.
A Thursday forum at the Masters Center, organized by the High Plains Patriots, functioned with a two-fold purpose: To let candidates for the mayor’s position and four commission seats introduce themselves, and to see where they stood on important state and local issues.
Tim Ashley of the HPP, a local group that pushes for limited government, said as a former county commissioner he knew the candidates elected would have a tough task ahead of them.
“Unlike in state or federal offices,” Ashley said, “you don’t get to go to a another town hundreds of miles away and make your decisions.”
Due to an extended introduction period — five minutes to each of nine candidates — only three audience questions were answered during the approximately two-hour forum:
• Driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants: A question noted proposed legislation to end the practice of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and that the city commission had not issued a resolution in support of such legislation during last year’s legislative sessions.
Current Mayor Gayla Brumfield, running for re-election, brought minutes from the commission meeting where the resolution in question was tabled, and said the commission wasn’t comfortable with language in the resolution and tabled it. The resolution was never reintroduced again. Brumfield said she was against legislation currently proposed because more work needed to be done with dairies on the right language. Her opponent, former Mayor David Lansford, said it doesn’t make sense to give legal documentation to illegal immigrants.
District 4 Commissioner Chris Bryant said when the resolution came up, it had wording he couldn’t live with and it seemed to only shift the problems to the police departments without dealing with the underlying issues. His opponent, Rube Render, said a national identification act that has been passed but continually delayed could lead to a situation where a New Mexico driver’s license isn’t accepted because illegal immigrants had them as well, and the state should eliminate that possibility.
Bobby Sandoval, running unopposed in District 3, said he was told criminal groups were selling New Mexico driver’s licenses, and he would prefer a process that goes after those specific offenders instead of people trying to drive their kids to school.
District 2 candidate John Jones said he was against it because, “Most, if not all of them, provide false information to get the licenses.” His opponent, Sandra Taylor-Sawyer, said she was against illegal immigrants having driver’s licenses, but part of the problem was that many businesses encourage illegal immigration by hiring illegal immigrants.
District 1 incumbent Randy Crowder said he is against driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and sees it more as a safety issue than an immigration issue. His opponent, Jan Elliott, said she is against the process but has issues with the proposed legislation to end the process.
• Quality of life: The mayors-only question was answered in great detail by Brumfield, and briefly by Lansford.
Brumfield said when she became chairman of a growth management organization to help eastern New Mexico prepare for a new Cannon Air Force Base mission, the concern was lack of recreational activities for children. She noted creation of a quality of life task force, which made recommendations that mirrored a master parks plan sitting on the shelf. The parks plan included an 18-hole golf course and the repurposing of Hillcrest Park into youth sports fields, walking trails and other amenities.
Lansford said quality of life is a very subjective term, but during his tenure as mayor the city built a new CATS (Clovis Area Transit System) building, a new public works building and the Clovis Civic Center.
“If it’s defined as recreational activities,” Lansford said, “Gayla’s done a fabulous job and I commend her.”
• Commission candidates were asked for their most important and least important issues.
For important issues, Crowder said water supply and fixing streets; Elliott said making sure city employees had proper tools to do their jobs and possibly adding warning lights at dangerous intersections on 21st Street; Taylor-Sawyer stressed public safety, quality of life and education; Bryant and Render each said water; Jones said water and safety for children; Sandoval said roads, “by far.”
For least important issues, Sandoval said he couldn’t think of a least important because the smallest item to one person may be somebody’s biggest issue, a stance most everybody agreed on. Render did joke that his least important concern was, “the guy with the ruler measuring your weeds (for code compliance).”