By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Two applicants have been certified to be considered for appointment as the next Tucumcari City Commissioner for District 2.
Candidates are Amy Gutierrez, 41, operations manager at the New Mexico First National Bank and Jonathan Brito, 22, a behavior management specialist for Turquoise Health and Wellness.
The City Commission decided at its Jan. 23 meeting to appoint the commissioner for District 2 rather than hold another special election. The seat was vacated after a successful recall Jan. 2 of Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval.
The Quay County Sun asked each candidate the same five questions.
Each candidate was asked they are seeking the appointment.
Brito said he is seeking the appointment because “I want to put the experience I have to work to help the city go in the right direction.”
“I have no agenda and any decisions I make will be on myself,” he said. “I’m going to be open-minded and make decisions on my own.”
Gutierrez said she is seeking the seat to help the commission achieve some unity and “achieve its potential for greater things” after a period of commission turmoil. Gutierrez also pointed out that she ran for commissioner in the 2012 general election and missed being elected by “only a couple of votes.”
Both were asked what qualifies them to be a commissioner.
Brito said his qualifications include attendance at “just about every community event.”
“I know just about everybody in town,” he said, “and they all know me.”
He said he studied business and law enforcement at Mesalands Community College and has attended classes there for three years.
In addition, he said, “I have some good ideas that could benefit the city.”
Gutierrez said her qualifications have come from her history as a volunteer. She said she has worked with the MainStreet committee and Altrusa, a professional women’s club. She has done work as a volunteer for the Tucumcari Elks Club and for the annual Mother Road Rally held in Tucumcari. In addition, she said, she is active in her church.
“I don’t sit idle,” she said.
The candidates were asked what they consider the top issues in the city.
The top issues facing the city, Brito said, are street and road conditions and abandoned and burned out buildings, especially in the center of town, he said.
“People who come from other states and they see the burned, vacant buildings,” he said. “It doesn’t leave a good impression of Tucumcari.”
Gutierrez said the single biggest issue the city is facing is disunity on the city commission.
“It has consumed more time than anything else,” she said.
If the divisiveness does not end, she said, “We’re not going to get anything. We’re not going to see growth…until the commission and city officials can work together. Then we can address other issues.”
Among those issues, she said, were attracting the racino and more businesses.
Both candidates were asked what they would like the city to accomplish while they are in office.
While he is in office, Brito said, he would like to see the city take care of streets and burned out buildings, “the right way.”
“We need to make sure there is enough funding,” he said.
In addition, he said, he would like to see Tucumcari as the home of a new a racetrack/casino, and more jobs in the city.
Gutierrez said she would like to see growth in the city, “and anything positive” while she serves on the commission.
Growth, she said, “will not come overnight.”
Both candidates were also asked what makes them the best candidate.
Brito said because he knows “just about everybody in the city.”
He said he will be open-minded and will listen to residents’ concerns.
“I won’t bad-mouth anybody,” he said.
He said he plans to take the commissioner position’s responsibilities “one day at a time.”
Gutierrez said she would be the best candidate because she would make “informed, rational decisions” and work with the commission as a whole.
She also said she is a homeowner, and her family is committed to staying and working in Tucumcari. She also said she is open-minded and very concerned about dwindling population and a drain of young talent away from the city.
She described herself as a “dedicated, hard, determined worker.”
“With all these attributes,” she said, “I would be an asset to the commission.