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Nonprofit director plans run for Ward 1 council seat

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Cristina Arnold believes she is “Right for Roswell,” and has been preparing to run for a seat on the City Council for two years in order to be educated enough to serve.

Cristina Arnold, City Council Ward 1 candidate. (Alison Penn Photo)

“I love my hometown and most of all, the people who live here,” Arnold wrote in a statement. “I now feel a calling to serve them the best I can by taking on the task of running for City Council, Ward 1. We have a rich heritage in our community of Roswell, New Mexico. I respect the history of our past, but believe we must move forward to embrace our future.”

Arnold, 44, publicly announced her intention to run on Oct. 17 at Pecos Flavors Winery + Bistro, where she talked one-on-one with about 37 attendees. This is her first run ever for public office.

She said working as a compliance paralegal with the Harris County Attorney’s Office in Houston has given her knowledge about “legal parameters of city government.” She said this experience provided “a little bit of insight” for her into how government works on a municipal, state and judicial level.

“I’m not going to come in and say ‘no new taxes’ (or) ‘we’re going to repair all the roads,’” she said. “What I’m going to do is make sure that I do my job as a city councilor, which is making sure that the government is limited — because you can have massive regulations and it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way — that they’re fiscally responsible and that they are making solid decisions about what is good for our community. I do believe that we are on the precipice of an uptick. I think some good things are coming to our community and it is very imperative that we make some really wise decisions. …”

Ward 1 is predominantly central and east Roswell — covering south of College Boulevard and north of McGaffey Street, between Atkinson and Union avenues. City Councilor Juan Oropesa is the incumbent, whose four-year term is up for election. Oropesa has confirmed he is considering a run for re-election. Jacob Roebuck, the ward’s other councilor, is set to serve until 2022.

A graduate of the Roswell High School Class of 1993, Arnold said her “roots run deep” with her family living and working here since the 1930s. She has three children — two young adults and one high schooler.

If elected, using her skills “to assist the community in growth” and prosperity is important to her. In regard to city finances, she wants investment in the community and to also see an increase in the city’s reserve fund. By law, the city must have 1/12 of its income in reserves.

The top three issues she is paying attention to and wants to review if elected, are roads, sidewalk maintenance and the potential bond vote for a $35 million public safety complex, vetted Oct. 10 by the City Council to appear on the ballot in the municipal elections. Infrastructure and Legal are the committees she’d be interested in serving on if elected.

For her current employment, she is the director of operations for Basta! New Mexico, which consults other nonprofits. She said the motto is “giving New Mexicans a reason to stay.” Basta! is nonpartisan, which is why Arnold decided to run for City Council.

As a self-described “operator,” she said some improvements could be made within the city to increase efficiency. She said she admires Barry Foster, city councilor for Ward 5, for his level-headed approach.

Outside of work, she is a board member for the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico and has volunteered with Roswell Healthcare Solutions Group. She is also a member of the current Leadership Roswell class set to graduate in the spring.

In her free time, she enjoys sitting on her front porch in the historic district with her husband and three dogs. She also spends time with her father, who she calls her “best friend,” by taking him to movies once a week and they enjoy skeet shooting. Afternoon tea with her mother is another pastime.

Though she hasn’t heard much about Ward 1’s specific issues, Arnold plans to go door-to-door to visit with constituents before the elections and is “intrigued” to learn about their concerns. In her mind, there needs to be more of a focus on the east side of the city and the proposed location of the public safety complex on East Second Street would be beneficial to the neighborhood.

Arnold said potential constituents may reach her at 505-353-6669 or through her Facebook page, “Cristina Arnold for Roswell City Council Ward 1.”

Some of the skills she believes she’ll bring to the council are her analytical mind, her integrity and dedication to serve and an understanding of government regulations and the impact of decisions for taxpayers.

“I think one of my main goals is to make sure that the people are heard,” Arnold said. “Because like I said, I don’t really have a specific agenda. What I have is an approach. When we have things that are to go up, I will practice the rule of three, which is what do the constituents say, what do the professionals say and how will it affect Roswell. And once I assess those three things, I’ll make a decision. So for me, it’s really about listening to the people. … Basically, they should vote for me because I will represent them. I am honest and I love Roswell.”

Election day is March 3. Municipal candidates can file on Jan. 7 and early voting begins Feb. 4 and ends Feb. 28.

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