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Municipal Election Candidate Forum; Ward 1, 5 candidates share insights on local issues

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Ward 5 incumbent Tabitha Denny, on screen, Elaine Mayfield and Ward 5 candidate Angela Moore make their final remarks to the crowd on Tuesday evening’s candidate forum. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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Eleven City Council candidates responded to questions submitted by the public at the 2018 Candidate Forum hosted by Leadership Roswell Alumni Association (LRAA) on Tuesday evening at the Pueblo Auditorium. Part one will cover Ward 5 and Ward 1 and part two will cover Ward 2, Ward 4, and Ward 3 in Saturday’s edition.

Ward 1 candidates, left to right, Jacob Roebuck, Jeffrey Cabana and Alfredo
Dominguez III take turns answering questions from moderator Rick Kraft. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

NMMI Color Guard presented the flag, Goddard Stargazers sang the anthem and Roswell High School Band played beforehand, and City Councilor Savino Sanchez provided the invocation prior to the City Council candidates answering five questions per ward.

Leadership rise and fall

Ken Maguire, LRAA president and vice president of academic affairs at Eastern New Mexico University, opened the forum with an introduction about LRAA and forum moderator Rick Kraft. Maguire called the event a rare and special opportunity to learn about the candidates for municipal election.

“We do this because, as leaders within our community, we know how important elections are,” Maguire said. “It is our commitment to inform our community — the voters about the candidates and what they stand for. We know that informed voters vote and we want to increase participation in all of the elections.”

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Maguire then spoke about the choice to partner with Pecos Valley Broadcasting and the Daily Record to increase engagement through several multimedia formats such as the live stream, radio broadcast, podcast and print in the daily paper as well as the voters’ guide.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” Kraft said, thanking the citizens who were present and introducing the decorum for the event.

Ward 5

Incumbent City Councilor Tabitha Denny appeared through Skype, due to training out of town, and challenger Angela Moore attended to vie for Ward 1.

The candidates began with their opening comments. Denny’s speech could be heard loud and clear, but due to technical difficulties, Moore’s responses were initially muffled.

Denny said she wished she could have been present and talked about her professional background on Pecos Valley Teen Court. Denny is getting her master’s degree in social work from Highlands University and has said previously her heart is for the youth and for the whole city.

“Roswell is my home,” Denny said. “I want to make it the best place that it can be and for all of us to be proud of. It is important to realize that change doesn’t happen with one person alone. It comes from all of us coming together as a team.”

Moore said she was not a politician, but a special education teacher in the Roswell Independent School District for 19 years, a single mother, community member and volunteer. Moore also referenced her community works in social work and counseling influenced by her passion for youth and safety.

“I can bring my planning skills, my communication skills, my dealing-with-difficult-people skills, and knowing-when-to-hold-them-and-fold-them talents and assets for the City Council,” Moore said. “I am an everyday woman working for everyday people.”

Ward concerns

The first question asked which issues candidates have heard about in their wards and how the candidate would address them if elected.

Denny said the recreation center and crime is what she has heard about most. She continued to say the recreation center could prevent crime by allowing the youth to have activities.

Moore said safety and lack of activities for the youth are what she hears about most. She followed Denny’s statement saying activities would give the youth value and added more police officers would help.

The next question was about how a City Council can promote tourism. Moore said the council should provide incentives for tourists to come and safety to increase economic development. Denny said the city needs to capitalize on the aliens and build on tourism for the betterment of all of Roswell.

Budgeting experience

Financial experience with budgeting was the theme of the following question. Denny said finances are the most important part of any program and that the city having priorities on allocating funds is important. Moore said she has a working knowledge of budgeting and being in charge of finances for her church.

Decreasing crime

The next question was about the perception of the high crime in the city of Roswell and how the city could decrease crime in the city. Moore talked about collaborative neighborhood policing. Denny said the city has to be proactive instead of reactive by assisting the youth and increasing punishment to dissuade criminals.

The final question was about the perceived divide along socioeconomic and political lines in the city and how unity can be created. Moore said she agreed with the perception that she has seen as a lifelong resident and meetings between communities would be beneficial. Denny said this perception is a reality and we all have to change our minds to change the divide.

Denny shared her closing thoughts and said working together is essential to improve and change Roswell.

Moore said she may not be a qualified politician, but she is passionate about making a change in her hometown that she loves.

Ward 1

The following four candidates are running for Ward 1: Catarino Munoz, Jacob Roebuck, Jeffrey Cabana and Alfredo Dominguez III. Munoz could not participate because of a family medical emergency. The other three candidates were present.

A father and entrepreneur known for the Christmas Railway, Roebuck introduced himself, focusing on Roswell as a family town and the potential to be a world-class city. Roebuck said he wants to revitalize the downtown, encourage public and private partnerships, and improve quality of life for families.

Cabana, an audio engineer known for his involvement with music events around town, said he is running to improve tourism in the city, which would improve economic development.

A resident of Roswell since 1980, Dominguez directly addressed any issues voters could have with facts he is employed by Dean Baldwin Painting and he has a relative who works for the city, which he shared out of fairness and transparency. Dominguez said he would not make decisions for his employer but would base his decision on what was best for the city and his ward.

Unifying the city

The following question was about the perceived divide in Roswell and how the city could unify.

Referencing his experience growing up in a Hispanic household, Roebuck said the city has an opportunity to be an example of unifying people and cultures because of the community being in close proximity.

Cabana said he had never heard of or felt the divide until this election and continued to say he thinks the divide exists in the minds of those who talk about it.

Dominguez said he agrees the divide exists, but at first, did not have an answer how to unify. He referenced in central downtown and Chihuahuita being located in his ward and hardly hears this community being mentioned. Having the goal of unity and everyone talking to one another is how Dominguez said he thinks the city could change the current divide.

Compassion for the homeless

Homelessness and the city’s involvement versus private entities was the next question asked.

Cabana said the current situation is horrible, assistance should be run by a nonprofit, and compassion should be had for neighbors by citizens. According to Cabana, the city’s role with planning and zoning that happened for the Roswell Homeless Coalition was helpful.

Dominguez said he believed public money should be involved in helping the homeless because homeless individuals contribute to the economy by buying food and staying places. He called them residents that deserved to be treated with respect and to have a voice.

Roebuck said he believed the religious community needs to take the primary role in caring for the homeless and the city can only provide help within the capacity of its resources.

Assets and liabilities

Kraft asked how the candidates could magnify the city’s greatest asset and correct the largest liability.

Dominguez said the greatest asset is the people who govern the city and the country. Remembering the Goliath storm, Dominguez said the people were the ones who helped each other, not city officials. Communication was the liability Dominguez referenced.

Roebuck said the assets of Roswell are the people who want change, the airport that can be utilized more efficiently, and the “billion dollar” brand the city has received from the UFO incident. However, he said Roswell is more than aliens.

Following his other candidates, Cabana said the greatest asset was the charity of the people, but he also said the people who have a negative mindset about the city could be a liability at times.

Attendance accountability

The next question asked the candidates if they could be held accountable for the level of commitment to be a city councilor.

Cabana said he is aware how much commitment being a city councilor requires, but said that is why it is called civic service. Cabana said he encouraged youth and others to participate in city government.

Dominguez said he understood the level of commitment.

Roebuck said he has attended previous city meetings, finds the process interesting, and thinks the city should implement pay deduction if city councilors do not attend the meetings.

Generating revenue

The final question asked the candidates which revenue-generating opportunities they planned on promoting for the community.

Dominguez said the city should look into expanding alternative energy and that tourism would grow on its own.

Roebuck said growing the economy is paramount to solve the city’s issues. He continued to say the tourism opportunities are underserved and the downtown needs improvement to cater to local and visiting needs. Recruiting young professionals is another subject Roebuck said was important.

Cabana said he would like to encourage locally owned tourism businesses and when the tourism grows, there will need to be more supporting businesses. He continued to say he would like more of the film industry to come for the benefit of the city.

Closing comments

Roebuck said if the focus of the city is around the core of the community and if amenities are improved, Roswell will progress in the next couple of years.

If elected, Cabana said he would like to see the police force at full capacity, help get the homeless shelter running, and expand business growth without raising taxes.

Dominguez said raising pay for the police officers, firefighters and city workers needs to happen to give people incentive to stay after training.

Kraft thanked the candidates for participating in the forum and for seeking the Ward 1 seat on the City Council.

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

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