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Twelve candidates file for city offices

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Roswell voters can request absentee ballots now, says City Clerk Sharon Coll. The ballots will begin to be mailed on Feb. 4. Election day is March 3. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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March election also to include bond question

Five incumbents and seven people not currently in office are seeking a city council or municipal judge seat in the March city elections that also will include a bond question for a proposed $35 million public safety complex.

Roswell City Clerk Sharon Coll said that 12 people had made the filing deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday and that all had been verified as qualified candidates. Write-in candidates have until 5 p.m. Jan. 14 to file, which is also the last day for someone to withdraw from a race.

In addition to the bond question, voters will decide on one city councilor for each of the five wards and will elect one person to the municipal judge position. All terms will be for four years.

Ward 1 in central and east Roswell will have incumbent Juan Oropesa, a retired state worker who has served for two terms, running against nonprofit director Cristina Arnold.

Ward 2 in north Roswell has three people vying for a seat being vacated by Councilor Steve Henderson, who has decided not to seek a sixth term. Jason Perry, a pastor for a Baptist church in Artesia, is seeking a return to the City Council. He previously served, starting in 2004, but stepped down from a Ward 4 seat in 2018 when he moved out of the district to Ward 2. Retired accountant Bonnie Bitzer and Krumland Auto Group Chief Financial Officer Edward Heldenbrand also are making a bid for the seat.

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(Another Ward 2 seat recently became available after City Councilor Caleb Grant announced his resignation last week. Mayor Dennis Kintigh is expected to recommend a replacement on Jan. 9 to the Roswell City Council, which must approve the appointment to fill the seat until March 2022.)

For Ward 3, in the northwest and central west part of the city, incumbent Jeanine Corn Best, a businesswoman and rancher, is running unopposed at this point. She has served two, four-year terms, starting in 2012.

Ward 4 in the central west and southwest also has only one candidate at this time: incumbent Savino Sanchez Jr. A pastor at Church on the Move, he has been a Ward 4 representative since 2012.

For Ward 5, on the south side of the city, incumbent Barry Foster, a local teacher at Monterrey Elementary School, is seeking to return for a third term. He has served for eight years during two non-consecutive terms, from 2010 to 2014 and from 2016 to the present. His challenger is Oswaldo Nava, a criminal justice student who also runs a social media site.

Three people are running for the municipal judge position. Incumbent Joseph Seskey was appointed in August by the Roswell City Council, upon the recommendation of Kintigh. He previously had served as an alternate judge since March 2016.

Timothy H. Davidson and Gary Galassini are the other two candidates.

The bond question, approved by the City Council on Oct. 10 to appear on the March ballot, will ask voters if they will authorize the city to issue $35 million in general obligation bonds to buy land and build and equip a new public safety facility, which city leaders have said will likely be located on East Second Street, east of the railroad tracks.

The bonds, expected to have a term of about 18 years, will raise property taxes $118 a year, or $9.83 a month, for a person whose property has a full taxable value of $100,000. The public safety complex would combine a fire station, fire and police administration offices, the municipal court, an emergency operations center and a back-up dispatch center.

Absentee and early voting begin Feb. 4 and run until Feb. 28 and Feb. 29, respectively, with no voting on Feb. 17 or Sundays. Specific information about times and locations can be found on the “Election Information” page of the city’s website, www.roswell-nm.gov. The page also lists the six voting locations for election day, March 3.

Coll said people can now contact the clerk’s office, 637-6202, 425 N. Richardson Ave., to obtain absentee ballots, which she said will be mailed out starting Feb. 4.

She added that Pecos Trails Transit is offering free bus rides to take people to the nearest polling location on election day.

“I would like to see more people come out to vote,” she said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.