Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Richard Garcia jumps in the race to run for City Council to represent Ward 3, which is west of Roswell between West Second Street and Country Club Road.
This is the first seat of a current councilor to be challenged and the incumbent Art Sandoval has not released his intentions.
The City Council race continues since the mayor’s position and five of the 10 City Council seats are up for election in March. The filing day for municipal candidates is Jan. 9. The nonpartisan elections are March 6, with early voting beginning Feb. 14.
Garcia, 72, is a born-and-raised local of Roswell. Professionally, Garcia is retired from retail, corrections and education. He has run for state representative in the ‘80s, ran against Greg Nibert for a seat on the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2016, but this is his first campaign for City Council.
“I believe that I am running as a concerned citizen,” Garcia said. “I believe it is time for a change and for a change of the makeup of City Council. There are a lot of issues that can be addressed, not that I won’t be involved in the whole city; my concentration will be for Ward 3.”
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Garcia has also served on the Extraterritorial Zoning Commission, New Mexico Adult Parole Board, the League of United Latin American Citizens, a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Elks Lodge, Knights of Columbus and Boys & Girls Club of America. Garcia is also a member of St. Peter’s Church. He has volunteered for Senior Olympics, Women’s Refuge and is a Children Youth and Families Department foster and adoptive parent.
Garcia identifies as a progressive but emphasized the nonpartisan nature of City Council. As a candidate, Garcia intends to focus on the challenges of fiscal responsibility and representing the constituents of Ward 3. Outside of typical City Council and committee meetings, Garcia said he plans on meeting with his constituents on a monthly basis. Garcia said he sees it as a great commitment to have excellent attendance and participation in council, which he intends to fulfill this responsibility.
Responsibility to Ward 3
“You have a responsibility to your constituency,” Garcia said. “If you don’t attend, how can you represent? How are you going to be able to go to your constituency after they see your record?”
With the current council, Garcia said it needs to be equal, which he thinks is not the case with how items are being put on the agenda. Other arbitrary issues Garcia would like to change is the number of time citizens can speak and would like to see more time for councilors to reflect during public hearings prior to voting.
“You need to be transparent,” Garcia said. “When there are concerned citizens, address the City Council, three minutes is not long enough to address the issues that are of utmost importance. More time is needed. When it is open to the council, people should have all the time they need.”
For fiscal responsibility, Garcia said the city needs to watch the spending effectively and it is one of his main goals to find stability in the city finances.
Though he respects the current councilors, Garcia said he believes some of the issues in Ward 3 were not voted on in the Ward’s best interest.
Garcia said, “I actually started my involvement, which I have been involved in city, state and federal government issues practically all my adult life, but there was one that is dear to me and that was closing the Cahoon pool. There was no need for it. It could have been saved. It’s historic and it’s a beautiful area.”
He said he would like to see a different approach to Cahoon pool and would like to see it reopen. He also thinks the new aquatic center could be named after Raymond Anaya or César Chávez.
Speaking of the Yucca center and the pool, Garcia said the city could show better fiscal responsibility by taking care of the existing buildings.
“I believe as I mentioned before, we live in a different world,” he said. “Time is changing. We need to move forward. We are already in it — in the thick of it. We need to quit spending this particular money from the city and put it into what is needed — our streets, lights and sanitation. We need to work on things that are of vital importance to our citizens of Roswell.”
Garcia sees the values of the working class and said he sees them as his people and their voice needs to be heard.
In regards to this, he said, “I respect the mayor, I respect the city manager, but before I go any further with that, there is a group of people that I applaud and that is the city workers, first responders, police and fire department, the water department — they are the blood life of the city, not the elected officials. They are the ones who keep it going. They are the ones that grease the chain.”
Crime and police
“Crime in the United States is an epidemic,” he said. “Getting back to our city, to me, we need more law enforcement. We need more policemen. We need more boots on the ground. We have 150 police. We need policemen. I would find a way. I think there are other ways of looking at this. Right now there is a program of going through grants, etc. I believe that you are never going to stop crime. Period. It does not stop, whether it is robbery, a shooting and drugs. We need to have a well-trained police force. Let the police chief and everybody do their job. Hire the best of the best. I believe you have to pay them the right money.”
Garcia said he has respect for the first responders that put their life on the line every day. Addressing the wages of the police and city employees, he believes their pay should be competitive and should be raised.
Quality of life
Garcia said what draws people to visit and live in our community is what we have to offer. He continued to say that it is typical for the young people to leave Roswell but believes the city has the opportunity to draw businesses here and pay good wages for people that are working here, which will provide more opportunities and better quality of life.
“If the children see the opportunity, they will stay,” he said. “But right now, what has been laid out for them is dire straights.”
The zoo, the golf courses, parks, the sports facilities are important to Garcia and he said those places greatly enhance the quality of life in Roswell and deserve fiscal responsibility and maintenance from the city.
With his ending remark, Garcia said, “We need to be transparent with the people. I’ve got that passion to try to do the best that I possibly can. I worry about the things that I can do something about. I don’t worry about the things that I can’t do nothing about.”
City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.