Home News Local News Municipal Election Candidate Forum; Mayoral contenders square off

Municipal Election Candidate Forum; Mayoral contenders square off

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Incumbent Mayor Dennis Kintigh speaks at the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association’s 2018 Municipal Election Candidate Forum on Tuesday night. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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Mayoral candidates answered questions on city issues submitted by the community on Tuesday evening at the 2018 Municipal Election Candidate Forum.

Moderator Rick Kraft began the mayoral portion of the forum with information about voting. After intermission, the mayoral candidates joined Kraft on the stage of the Pueblo Auditorium.

Opening statements

Del Jurney, Natasha Mackey, Sergio Gonzalez and incumbent Dennis Kintigh, the four mayoral candidates, were introduced by Kraft and eight questions proceeded.

The questions are submitted to a committee, which reviews the questions, chooses relevant ones, and fine-tunes how the questions will be asked. The questions are kept a secret from candidates to provide candid answers and the order the questions are asked is variable.

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Each mayoral candidate was allotted a three-minute opening statement and all of the candidates began with words of gratitude.

Jurney began the opening statements and said he prepared a speech but realized it was about the voters and not him. He addressed his concerns about crime, the city’s current financial status, and imminent debt from the Recreation and Aquatic Center.

“I want to set this aside and I want to tell you how much I love this community,” Jurney said. “What an honor and a privilege this has been over the course of 50-plus years here to serve.”

Mackey spoke next about her background in management, business and working as a marketing director. Mackey said she wants to unite the community across racial and socioeconomic divides, with a focus on families.

“With my diverse background, I am able to touch people from all walks of life,” Mackey said. “One of the main things I believe I bring to the table for this role as mayor is to unify a community, and so when you hear the words unity, family and hope, I want you to think about Ms. Mackey.”

Gonzalez began his speech referencing the Berrendo Middle School shooting as a reason for his intentions to run for mayor in 2014 and he dedicated his run to his recently born first granddaughter. He referenced his sequential runs for commissioner, councilor and mayor, graduation from Leadership Roswell, and his time in the Marines as relevant experience to be mayor.

“Although I lost those two elections, I have gained the attention of 1,200 voters altogether — for them I have chosen to stay in the race,” Gonzalez said.

A graduate and serving on the LRAA board in the past, Kintigh said he recognized the value of these events to inspire future public servants. Kintigh said he was brought to Roswell and he has chosen to stay to serve in numerous capacities referencing his law enforcement background and heart for the Roswell Police Department.

“This is a town that has challenges and we’ve got to face them,” he said. “I believe we have begun to do that. I believe we now have a new spirit of optimism — a spirit of growth.”

Kintigh said this spirit of accomplishing has silenced some. He apologized and said it was his intent to make Roswell a great city by working with the community. Addressing city staff and young entrepreneurs, Kintigh said because of them, Roswell is experiencing a revitalization.

Mayoral duties

For the first question, Kraft asked the candidates to describe the duties of the mayor and what has drawn them to run for office.

Jurney said team building, setting the direction for the city, and communicating with businesses and the community are duties of the mayor.

Mackey said the mayor should see the overview of the city and guide the city through communication between the citizens and city. She said the mayor should be a visionary, represent the city adequately, and unify the council.

Leadership, responsibility, and the most important action of a mayor is to unite the people and work with the councilors, according to Gonzalez. He addressed his lack of experience and stated the other candidates did not have experience until they were given a chance to serve.

Going against the grain of the previous statements, Kintigh said the city manager is the one who guides the city. He praised City Manager Joe Neeb and said the facilitating meetings, professionally and with decorum, was another important objective of the mayor.

City divided

Kraft asked the candidates what they would do to help with the perceived division of Roswell along socioeconomic and political lines.

“I feel like there is division in Roswell,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve seen it on all sides. It doesn’t matter what part of town you’re at, but I do believe that coming together and being strong as a community could fix that.”

Gonzalez went on to say this division starts from the top down and the leaders of the city must address it first.

“The objective has to be to not pretend we don’t have differences, but to be able to candidly, honestly, but respectfully engage in discussions,” Kintigh said after stating division exists as a fact of life. Of the current council, Kintigh spoke on their diversity and opinions and listening is key to resolving differences.

Jurney said the division is unfortunate and said it requires leadership and the desire for it to change.

“But it is the challenge I think that makes it worthwhile,” Jurney said. “When we can come together — we can set aside our differences and find a common goal and strive together to accomplish a betterment for this community — then the success will take place. The division will begin to break down.”

Mackey said the divide is evident in the community, but she personally does not dwell on the side of division.

“I look at ways and opportunities that we can we can bridge gaps so that we can come together as a people,” Mackey said. “Tear down those things that divide. Tear down those barriers and grab hands — because we are human. We are human first, regardless of racial status and how much money you have in the bank.”

Overcoming setbacks

The following questions were about the candidates’ largest setback and how they overcame the obstacle.

Kintigh said finding the city manager while there was division in the council was his largest setback, but Joe Neeb was hired in April 2017. To be able to weather the storm of challenges, Kintigh said he relied on his faith.

Jurney talked about the Family Resource Referral, his place of employment almost closing during his tenure as mayor and other difficult business decisions.

Mackey said leaders expect challenges, but she said being an African-American and a woman is a perceived barrier set by others in her run for mayor. Mackey said this is not a barrier for her and outside of her race and gender, she is a passionate person with a heart for the Lord.

Gonzalez referenced being a single parent, full-time student, and running for the last three elections has been his challenge. Encouragement from people wanting him to run, the support of his mother, and his faith has helped him overcome the challenge. The political partisan division has also been a challenge for Gonzalez.

Full toolbelt

The next question addressed which tools the candidates thought they would bring to the mayoral position and how they were better equipped with the other candidates.

Mackey used different tools as metaphors for strengths but said her leadership skills background in business, marketing and serving on the City Council were what she would bring if elected.

Gonzalez spoke again about his military leadership experience, being organized and structured, and his ability to listen to the concerns and act. If elected, Gonzalez said he intends to visit all the sections of the community as much as he can and encourages younger people to run for mayor, though he respects the older men who have been mayor.

After laughing with Kraft about an age joke and calling himself Methuselah, Kintigh said he brings his background in aerospace and criminal justice, which are relevant to Roswell. His key comes from his experience as an investigator speaking and listening to people from all walks of life.

Jurney talked about his business experience with finances and referenced his ability to listen and paying attention to individuals.

Personalized questions

Concerning trends from the submitted questions to the committee led to the creation of and a personalized question crafted for each candidate to respond to those concerns.

For Gonzalez, the question pertained to his losses in his last elections and how he is not well-known as a leader by the community because of those losses. Gonzalez said he recognized that he was an unknown due to only leaving the military three years ago, and lack of financial support is a drawback to his current campaign.

Kintigh’s question was about the public perception of Kintigh having an overaggressive leadership style. Saying the perception was unfortunate, Kintigh asked that if he had been offensive, that the person come to him directly and continued to say he was passionate about turning the city around and protecting the current momentum.

After losing the last election, the results could be perceived as a vote of no confidence in Jurney. Jurney said his personality trait of not being focused on himself may fuel this perception and said during his term, there was progress, referencing 21 capital improvement projects without raising taxes.

Mackey’s question regarded her public attendance record at City Council. Mackey said the candidates should be aware of what the public is saying and she checked her record, finding she did not have the worst record of the councilors. Bringing attention to the actions unaccounted for, Mackey said she thinks she has done her job and believed that some meetings were scheduled to exclude certain councilors. In addition, Mackey said she will be able to set hours for meetings if elected to the mayor position.

Lasting legacy

The final question was what the one thing the candidate would want to be remembered for at the end of their tenure if elected.

Kintigh said he wants to leave a cleaner, safer Roswell that the youth and community can be proud of and want to stay.

A successful term is what Jurney said he wants to be known for and a term with fiscal responsibility meeting the quality of life the community needs.

Mackey said she wants to be known for more than one thing, but she wants her constituents to feel heard and see a resolution to issues. Proactive communication between City Hall and the citizens, a flourishing downtown and 50,000 population is something Mackey envisions at the end of her term.

Gonzalez said he hopes to make history and be the first Hispanic mayor, which he hopes to bridge the divide in the city. Gonzalez hopes to bring more people from the Hispanic population and across the board to vote in this election.

Closing comments

Jurney admitted that the evening had been difficult for him, the forum was not consistent with his character or how he operates in council, and apologized if anyone was disappointed. At the end of his speech, Jurney said he would be a good mayor and would put his heart and soul into it.

“We need good direction and good leadership,” Jurney said. “The fact that my articulation is not what it needs to be does not mean I don’t have the business skills, leadership skills and capabilities.”

Addressing and thanking the citizens directly, Mackey said she wants to continue to serve the city.

“A vote for Mackey is a vote for unity, family and hope,” she said. “If that’s what you are looking for, if that is your desire, I want you to feel confident that you elected a leader who is a visionary, a leader who is passionate, a leader who has a heart of a servant who will serve you undyingly, tirelessly in order to see the vision come forth.”

Gonzalez said it is time for new leadership and vision for the citizens. Gonzalez also dedicated this run for election to his first-born granddaughter.

“We no longer are a retirement community,” Gonzalez said, “but a vibrant city with teens who need to stay active and we need to create good job opportunities for them after their education here. If things are great the way they are, keep them the same. If they are not, that is why I am here.”

Kintigh referred to the team at City Hall highlighting the professionalism of Neeb, Finance Director Monica Garcia and City Councilor Caleb Grant.

“This is great,” Kintigh said. “We have been prudent stewards of your money, and as such, we have been able to accomplish much more than has been done ever before. Let’s build a better Roswell. Let’s keep Roswell moving forward. I ask for your vote.”

As the evening drew to a close, Kraft thanked the organizers, the community and the candidates.

“We want to encourage each one of you to vote,” Kraft said. “Get as many others as you can to get out and vote, also. Thank you again for coming out. God bless you and God bless Roswell.”

Forum hosting

The forum was hosted by Leadership Roswell Alumni Association (LRAA) and sponsored by Pecos Valley Broadcasting and the Daily Record.

Kraft said this was the 34th forum hosted by LRAA graduates from the Chamber of Commerce Roswell Leadership Program. LRAA has 15 board members and hosts activities throughout the year like Teen Leadership Program for juniors in high school and hosts an awards banquet in June.

City residents can vote for a mayoral candidate and a city councilor candidate in the ward the resident resides in. Early voting is from Feb. 14 through March 2, with the exception of President’s Day.

Titled the Roswell Candidate Forum, the recorded live stream can be watched on KSPTV.com’s event page until Election Day, March 6. The event was broadcast live on Roswell’s Talk FM 106.5. More information on the candidates not addressed in the forum can be found in the Voters Guide, which published in Sunday’s edition of the Daily Record.

Coverage of the city councilor candidates and the mayoral responses to crime and homelessness will appear in Friday’s edition.

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