ARTESIA — Roswell native Tommy Bailes is seeking the District 3 Artesia City Council seat currently held by Kent Bratcher.
“I was born in Roswell at Walker Air Force Base and stayed there until I was 18 and left to go into the Air Force,” he said.
Once his hitch was done, he moved to Artesia as his mom and sister moved to The City of Champions from The UFO City.
He lived in Artesia for a decade and then moved back to Roswell after working for a company that left Roswell, he moved back to Artesia and he now works at Artesia General Hospital.
Bailes said he has three biological children and three step-children and also has 11 grandchildren.
Bailes adds that he is also involved in the area motorcycle scene, which helps raise funds for various causes.
So why is the man also known as “Viking” seeking public office?
“From talking to the people in the community, people want something done and not to say anything against the current City Council, they’ve been in there for a long time,” he said.
“My personal experience is when you’ve been somewhere for a long time, you tend to get complacent. I’m everywhere all the time and I hear the needs and concerns and agree with the majority of them,” he added.
During a recent candidate forum, Bailes said he learned that some of the candidates in the last few election cycles were unopposed.
“So I think with this many candidates running across the board through all the districts, I think it’s a good thing, because I think the community and people are ready for something different,” he said.
District 3 covers the western parts of the community and Bailes said that part of Artesia is growing.
“The housing situation has gotten huge. Just in my area, they’re building houses left and right. There’s businesses coming in, there’s a self-storage coming in, the town itself — now that the oil boom is back — is starting to grow,” he said.
Bailes said the concentration in the community seems to be on the new things, he said that some thought should be given to some of the more established parts of the community.
Bailes is talking about the infrastructure, mainly the water system and the parks.
“There’s a very small crew, from my understanding, that takes care of the parks,” he said.
“Jaycee Park, they have state tournaments for baseball and softball and it’s been in need of repair because of the gopher holes,” he added. “They’re out there by the thousands, kids are starting to twist their ankles.”
Jaycee Park is in District 3.
On the water situation, Bailes was asked if he had any thoughts on the E. coli situation that hit the community twice last year.
“Working at the hospital, I had privy to a little bit of it (the E. coli information) because of the infection control issues that came into the hospital, so I had privy to the information probably a little bit before the public did. The word needs to get out to the public a lot sooner,” he said.
“The issues were probably happening a week or two before the word actually got out and there was a lot of people who ended up going into the hospital sick because of it,” Bailes said.
“I think having the same situation at least twice in the same year, that something could have been done a little more the first time instead of waiting to see if it would just go away,” he said.
Bailes said water pressure is also a major problem for District 3.
Bailes is also on board with the new Artesia Aquatic Center that is set to be complete next year.
“It’s one of the many things Artesia needs,” he said. “Even if they do it on their own or do it through the hospital as part of their therapy.”
The city of Artesia, Artesia General Hospital, Artesia Public Schools and the Artesia Aquatic Center Foundation are partnering for the multi-million dollar facility.
Are the same issues facing District 3 also the same ones facing the community as a whole?
“We have a lot of parks here and there’s places for the kids to go and do things, it’s mainly for the smaller kids,” he said.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Park, they’ve put a lot of money and a lot of time and effort into, there are a lot of things out there for the kids to do, especially in the summertime, with the water park.” Bailes added.
Bailes said the other parks in the community also need some attention as well. “Some of the trees are dying off and branches are all over the place.”
Besides seeing more personnel for the parks department, Bailes would like to see another officer hired for codes enforcement.
“Codes enforcement consists of one person,” he said. “When you’re talking about a population of 11 or 12,000, that’s a lot of area to cover.”
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.