Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
The race for the City Council seat representing Ward 3 is contested between Councilor Art Sandoval and Richard Garcia.
“I hope you elect me in March,” Sandoval said, Thursday at the Daily Record. “It’s a tough position. A lot of people think the grass is greener on the other side until it is theirs. I highly recommend it to everybody that if they think that is the case, to put their name in the hat to see what it is really like. It’s a tough and thankless job, but I am willing to take on the responsibility as your city councilman of Ward 3.”
Sandoval, 44, was born and raised in Roswell.
His ancestry and the generations here greatly have influenced his choice to run as an elected official. As the current assistant principal at Mesa Middle School, head softball coach at Roswell High School, incumbent City Councilor, father of two daughters, and has been married for almost 20 years, Sandoval is an engaged member of Roswell.
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In school, Sandoval played football, baseball and basketball. He graduated from Roswell High School in 1992, completing a degree in sociology and psychology with an emphasis in criminal justice at Eastern New Mexico University-Portales, attended College of the Southwest for a teaching degree in special education, and completed a master’s degree in education administration in May.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do — to be real honest,” Sandoval said. “I have been thinking about it since Thanksgiving just so I could know whether I wanted to pursue either a different position, a continuance of my current position, or taking a couple of years off and trying to go to a higher position — or just taking off completely and enjoying life.”
If elected for the next term, Sandoval said he would like to see the city of Roswell continue to develop in order to improve the city. His daughter leaving for college influenced his desire to create a community that kids who grew up in Roswell would eventually return home. Growing the population to a range of 75,000 to 100,000 is a gradual change Sandoval would like to see.
On making promises as an elected official, Sandoval said, “People who run for office make all of these promises that they can do this, they can do that, and they want to do this. I applaud them for that, but the gist of it is, it is probably not going to happen within one term, probably even two terms.
“One of the reasons I decided to not run for mayor is that I have more opportunity as a city councilor,” he continued. “A lot of people think the mayor runs the city and the mayor doesn’t run the city. It’s the city manager who runs the city. We are the elected officials. You are going to hear me say ‘we’ not ‘I’ because it is not about ‘I.’ There are nine other council members and of course, if we break a tie, it goes to governing body, including the mayor.”
Sandoval said he has served under the four following mayors: Bill Owens, Sam LaGrone, Del Jurney and present Mayor Dennis Kintigh. He said he has also worked with 23 different City Council members.
Sandoval said that Roswell is his home and he is the best candidate to know what Roswell needs. He said he is affiliated with the Republican Party.
With four terms, representing Ward 3 and 4 for two terms each, serving as mayor pro-tem on multiple occasions, and participating in nine committees, Sandoval has an arsenal of experience behind him.
As the chairman of the Public Safety Committee and a member of General Services Committee, he said he would want to bring a police attorney to help with current legal issues.
In the most recent term, Sandoval said he recognizes the current council’s accomplishments are with the Wool Bowl, smoking ordinance, sexually-oriented businesses, the Angels Program and the new softball facility.
At this time, Sandoval said he will not criticize colleges or opponents, nor will he endorse publicly any mayoral candidate.
“To see growth in Roswell, we need new things. We need to move forward.”
Addressing his attendance rate in 2017, Sandoval contributes any absences to working on his master’s degree. He said his family is his No.1 priority and other absences could be contributed to family activities. For this next term, Sandoval said he is committed to improving his attendance now that the hurdle of his master’s degree is completed.
A firm believer in the benefit of evaluations that he experiences in the workplace, Sandoval said he would like to see an evaluation process for the city manager position.
Ideally, Sandoval said he wants to see more officers, but also said it is not realistic to make more positions in the near future with the current status. However, he said it could be possible in the future. He said he sees the pressing staffing issues involving the loss of officers to retirement, personnel and other discipline issues.
Sandoval said crime is a nationwide problem, fighting crime is a team effort, and that he is in frequent communication with the police department.
“One of the things that a lot of people don’t know about me is before I went into education I was a police officer back in the day in the Portales area just for a short time after I graduated college,” Sandoval said. “That is one of the main reasons why I am on the Public Safety Committee.”
With his background and talking with the deputy chiefs, Sandoval said he wants to see changes on the police staffing, which has 98 positions open and only 89 of them are full.
“If we can’t fill the 98 positions we have now, why would we create more positions if it is not within our budget?” he said.
Sandoval also wants the public to understand that a negotiation process is required to increase pay for the police and any other raises.
Another change he would like to see is an exit interview for the police to know why they are leaving and what the city can do better to serve and recruit the police force.
When asked about homelessness in the city, he said “I thought we were very insensitive when it came down to that. I think we could have handled that with a different approach.”
Recognizing his own sympathy to the situation, he continued to say the issue is a sensitive topic and the city could have handled the ticketing and arrests of the homeless in the Berrendo Riverbed Wash with a different approach.
Pool vs. rec center
“People want to see Roswell grow,” he said. “If we are going have Roswell grow, then we are going to have to have new things. Now with Cahoon pool, it could have been handled differently. I’m supporting the aquatic and recreation center. It’s something we need to do for the city of Roswell. Our kids deserve the best. My constituents deserve the best and that is something my opponent and I may disagree on. I respectfully understand his point of view because the pool was definitely historic.”
When asked about his goals if re-elected for another term, Sandoval said, “Unity. I want to see this community come together as one and I don’t want it to be segregated. I am sick and tired of seeing everybody always at each other. That’s not the way it should work. I think it needs to be where we are unified, coming together as a governing body, and seeing what we can do to move forward the city of Roswell.”
Sandoval reiterated that he represents the city and his ward together and on this topic, he said, “People don’t understand once you get on that bench and start making decisions, it is not just about your ward. It’s about the city of Roswell in general.”
As the interview drew to a close, Sandoval said, “This is my home. This is my city. This is where my family grew up. I want to continue to see Roswell become the best city in the nation. I see a lot of good things that could potentially happen.”
City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.