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Former city worker stands up for Roswell

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Peterson

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A Roswell native and experienced city worker, George Peterson is campaigning for Ward 4. His challenger is Whitney Hamill, who has yet to make contact with the Daily Record. Savino Sanchez is the incumbent councilor and Jason Perry stepped down to move to another Ward on Jan. 11.

Ward 4 begins at Main Street and West Second Street and ends at the western boundary at Wyoming Avenue. The Hondo Rivers creates a diagonal border between Ward 1 and Ward 4 southwest of Second Street. Principally, Ward 4 ends at West Brasher Road and continues north to West Poe Street and intersects at Main Street and West McGaffey Street.

A former water operator employee of the city, Roswell Independent School Board member and Desert Storm veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Peterson counts his viable experience in understanding the inner workings of his hometown on many levels.

Peterson, 47, is a born-and-raised local and graduated from Roswell High School in 1989. He has been married for 27 years, has two daughters and three grandchildren.

“I want to see a better Roswell for their future,” Peterson said. “I am running for some of the same issues I did back then. We need someone to stand up and say no once in a while. Right now, you have a bunch of ‘yes’ men and women on the council.”

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Peterson estimates that he has run for public office five to six times. For political office, he ran but was not elected for any position, for County Commissioner in 2002, state House District 58 seat in 2004, and he tried for state House position once more in 2008. In 2006, Peterson ran for a City Council Ward 4 seat against incumbent Duane Green. Peterson has campaigned under the Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian parties for different races.

City experience

Improving quality of life for city workers is one of Peterson’s priorities if elected to the council.

“I was working for the city as a water operator for nearly 10 years and I had to work two jobs,” Peterson said. “I had a part-time job in order to make ends meet. The city pays poverty wages and it’s tough to live.”

Currently, he commutes 1 hour and 10 minutes daily to work in Carlsbad as a wastewater operator due to better financial benefits. Despite this commute, Peterson says his life is balanced and he will be able to serve the council with full attention.

“One thing I would stop is the privatization of the city workers’ jobs,” he said. “They privatized the garage and they are wasting a lot of money on that — I don’t know the exact figures. When I first started with the city of Roswell, we were allowed to change our own light bulbs and flats — that type of stuff. Now, they have to pay the private garage. They charge $40 to change a light bulb and the city workers will get in trouble for doing that.”

His vision for a better Roswell would include better jobs and economic development. He said the loss of jobs and the presence of the low-paying jobs have been the biggest changes he has seen. Referencing when Levi’s and Nova Bus exited from Roswell, he thinks Roswell has not recovered from those losses.

For future economic development, Peterson said dedication is key and would be in favor of well-paying medical marijuana jobs.

If elected, Peterson said he would be interested in serving on the Public Safety and Infrastructure committees.

He said the Roswell Police Department and Fire Department need an increase in pay and would like to see the police force up to 130 officers.

Accountability in council

On his campaign flier released to the Daily Record, Peterson said he wants to address the issues of improved pay for the RPD and RFD, fix the roads, take a stand for the south of Roswell and not raise taxes without a public vote, which is the main complaint from Ward 4 constituents.

“They just raised our tax up twice without voter approval for the aquatic center,” Peterson said. “I’m for the aquatic center. The kids do need something, but I don’t think the City Council let too many people put input into that.”

With 16 years of relevant experience in infrastructure, Peterson said what he would want to see is responsible spending on infrastructure improvements and he believes taxing should have accountability.

“One of the things they did, I believe it was $18 million allocated for water meters,” he said. “That is a big waste of money. That’s one thing I have worked with — water meters. The radio reads it, the batteries run out after a year on a lot of them, and so I think they are wasting a lot of money right there.”

School board and youth

During his four years on the school board, Peterson said one of his biggest accomplishments was working with the board and community to open Missouri Avenue Elementary School, the first new school in over 50 years, and the millions of dollars in renovations across all the schools.

Peterson said RISD has great teachers and administration and thinks the city and schools should work together more.

Recognizing that every student may not want to attend college, Peterson said he would like to see manufacturing or a trade school in Roswell. A city youth program is something else Peterson would like to see.

“You’ve got to give them something to turn to because right now they turn to drugs and gangs,” Peterson said. “Roswell has a band gang problem. If the city had some kind of program, like an afterschool program, I think that would do a lot. Catch some of these kids at a younger age and try to show them what life is, real life, not gang life.”

Division in Roswell

Focusing on the city as nonpartisan, Peterson said he preferred not to answer his political affiliation.

“Democrats and Republicans are always going to fight,” he said. “That’s how they get elected. Here in Roswell, it is really bad, but I am trying to be nonpartisan, not take either side, just trying to do what is good for Ward 4 and the city of Roswell.

“I’m here to work for the city and people of Roswell. It’s a nonpartisan race. We have to work together to make Roswell better.”

On the division of north and south Roswell, he said the divide is rich against poor, not necessarily racial. For the council to bridge the gap, filling empty spaces in the southern area with low-income housing and/or businesses is what Peterson would like to see.

Michael Trujillo, former county commissioner and veteran, is one of Peterson’s inspirations because of his openness and dedication, which Peterson remembers Trujillo calling into meetings while stationed in Iraq.

Communication and information

“I am very open with talking to people,” Peterson said. “They can always come talk to me and email me.”

Peterson said he stays informed through reading the Daily Record, frequently checking the city’s website and checking the City Council agendas, which he encourages for the citizens of Roswell who want to be informed.

“It’s easy. Most people spend hours on Facebook,” he laughed. “It doesn’t take but a few minutes to look it up.”

He continued to say there are a lot of Hispanic people who want to be updated and was glad the Daily Record is printing Spanish sections.

Being half-Hispanic himself, he said he feels that Hispanic people need a voice in Roswell.

When asked why he is the best candidate for City Council and Ward 4, Peterson said his experience in infrastructure, the school board, working with people and being local to Roswell are his greatest assets.

“I love the people of Roswell,” he said. “They are dedicated to Roswell and one thing I like is that they are not afraid to tell you something.”

Voters have until Feb. 6 to register and early voting begins Feb. 14. The municipal election for the mayor’s position and five of the 10 City Council seats are up for the nonpartisan election on March 6.

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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