By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun
All three candidates for the Tucumcari District 4 City Council seat have been in the city long enough to experience what they’d call good times and bad times. With that in mind, all three think Tucumcari can do better in the next four years.
“I believe we have some good things going, and I believe Tucumcari is moving forward,” incumbent candidate Mary Mayfield said. “I’d like to see the progress we’ve made continue in the next four years.”
Mayfield is running against Keith L. Hayes and Lewis Martinez Sr. in her re-election bid. Voting for District 4 takes place 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Immanuel Baptist Church.
Mayfield, who was born and raised in the Tucumcari area, also serves as the city’s mayor. At the beginning of each new term for the council, one of the five members is chosen to serve as mayor, so Mayfield is potentially running to keep two positions with the city.
One of her opponents is Hayes, who has been in Tucumcari since 1946. Hayes, who is self-employed in the trucking business, said the city needs to provide services as efficiently as possible and equated it to a business that citizens are funding.
“If you’re going to have a business in Tucumcari, you’ve got to be pretty efficient. You’ve got to be able to change your operation, sometimes on a daily basis, to keep a healthy profit margin.”
One operation Hayes would like to see handled more efficiently are street repairs. In many cases, Hayes thinks that small street problems should be fixed inexpensively before they become big street problems that are expensive.
“In this area, where we’re getting potholes, the city’s going to have to change their procedure on fixing streets,” said Hayes, who at one point offered concrete services with his trucking business. “When you get a pothole that’s not taken care of (early), it grows.”
Martinez, a 1978 graduate of Tucumcari High School and 1990 graduate of New Mexico Highlands University, said he enjoys living in Tucumcari, but he understands why many don’t return to the city after they complete college.
“A lot of our people are leaving town,” Martinez said. “There are no jobs. There are fast-food restaurants and (businesses) like that. We need good-paying jobs.”
Martinez said he would like to be on the council to see what Tucumcari is or is not doing regarding businesses that visit the city but set up shop elsewhere.
“We have good schools, we have open fields, we can build,” Martinez said. “We have an industrial park. I would like to know what’s going on.”
Mayfield agreed that economic development is important, but she felt that filling the city’s needs is not an overnight task.
“There is no one solution for economic development,” Mayfield said. “Retention is very important. We need to retain the businesses we have. Tourism is one of our big economic development things for Quay County and New Mexico, and we’re working on that as well as other things.”
Mayfield said one of the biggest changes the city has made is in its code enforcement. Just as much as tax rate and land prices, Mayfield said the overall appearance of a city is important to a prospective business.
“When we have people come to Tucumcari — either tourists or prospective business — if they see that we don’t care about themselves, that’s not a community they want to move to,” Mayfield said. “We want to be open for business.”