Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Commission candidates speak out


October 30, 2019

Three of the four races for Tucumcari City Commission are contested in the Nov. 5 election, and those candidates brought up a range of concerns and issues in the city.

In District 1, which encompasses most of the city’s north side, Tommy Snapp is challenging incumbent Ralph Moya for a four-year term. Moya, 60, lists himself as a CEO of a mental-health agency, a behavioral health therapist, farmer and rancher. Snapp, 48, is a disabled retiree.

In District 2, in the northeast and east side of town, Paul Villanueva is challenging incumbent Amy Gutierrez for a four-year term. Gutierrez, 46, is an assistant cashier and consumer loan officer at AimBank, formerly FNB New Mexico. Villanueva is an assistant foreman at the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

In District 4 on the southeast side, Charlotte Hayoz is challenging incumbent Christopher Arias for a two-year-term. Hayoz, 46, is a clinic administrator. Arias, 26, is a customer service representative.

In District 3 on the city’s west side, incumbent commissioner and mayor Ruth Anne Litchfield is unopposed.

Municipal judge Noreen Hendrickson, appointed to the office early this year, also is unopposed for a two-year term.

The Quay County Sun recently mailed the six candidates in the contested races questionnaires about their candidacies. Below are the questions and their written answers; some responses are edited for clarity.

District 1

What prompted you to run?

Moya: “I ran four years ago with the intention to rebuild our community to the progress that I had left 16 years ago as a commissioner. I served 16 years in the ‘80s and early ‘90s — eight years as commissioner and eight years as mayor. As I looked back four years ago at our city, I noticed that most of our hard work and effort was gone. For example, building a good economic basin appeared to have been sidelined, and the city was in a downward spiral. These are some of the examples of what I left intact that were supposed to be spinoff industries for growth: a) trucking firms, $2 million payroll, GONE; b) railroad, GONE; c) Most retail and grocery stores, GONE; d) A lot of empty homes; e) City is in a very sad situation; f) The convention center has had very little upkeep since 1994 that my administration worked on getting built. Projects left unfinished were discarded. Example: Princess Theater project, which was supposed to be renovated, GONE. Tucumcari Lake project4 was on its way to making it a bird sanctuary with walking trails and a tourist attraction, GONE> These are some examples of what prompted me to run again. After my return, the last three years have been working on good infrastructure for the city of Tucumcari and getting a budget that is in good standing with the state auditor. The next four years will be dedicated to bringing good economic development and continue to work on infrastructure of our community and building our community to the level I left it in 1994.”

Snapp: “I am running to help Tucumcari become greater than it already is, to bring unity to the city and city government by being one ear and one voice for the citizens.”

What are the big issues facing the city?

Moya: “One of the biggest issues is the need of aggressive recruitment of good jobs. Other issues are to maintain our solid job foundation that we have and continue to grow in a positive way.”

Snapp: “The big issues I see and hear are the roads and jobs.”

Why should voters cast a ballot for you?

Moya: “A) To continue to have their voice heard in city hall; B) I have a proven record in my past services of how I have continued to bring industry and represent the community as a whole.”

Snapp: “I am available to listen and take concerns to the city manager and the appropriate people, and I will get back to the citizens as soon as humanly possible.”

What would you like to see the city accomplish during your term, if elected?

Moya: “My vision for the city of Tucumcari is to work effortlessly in renovating and recruiting more businesses and employment for the community as well as good services. A) Work with Main Street project to renovate downtown area and bring more art and other shops that are needed to revitalize that part of town. B) Work hard on preserving our historical tourist attractions such as Route 66 by drafting building codes that will complement that area of history and promoting as a tourist attraction before it is gone. C) Continue to work effortlessly on promoting our assets such as farming, tourism and our geographical location as well as our resources such as water. D) Continue to have a balanced budget and a positive, growing economic community.”

Snapp: “I would like to see the city come together as a united team, working together to accomplish the goal we all have for our town.”

District 2

What prompted you to run?

Gutierrez: “My desire to serve our community is what prompted me to run again for re-election. Many of the constituents, not only in my district, have really supported me during my time in office, and feel that I am doing a great job and would like me to continue representing the city. I would like to continue to focus on the transparency of the board, decision-making process and communication which will help the city. We have the potential to be the flourishing city we once were if we work together and utilize all our resources, and I want to be a part of that accomplishment.”

Villanueva: “I want to see some new changes around our city, and I want to help the citizens in District 2.”

What are the big issues facing the city?

Gutierrez: “Two of the most concerning are the dwindling businesses and road conditions. We need to have businesses come to town, stay and build a long-lasting presence. Thus, creating jobs and bringing families back into our community. We need, not only the commission, but EDC director and city manager, to work in seeking potential businesses, agriculture and farming to come to our community. The trucking industry should be one that we work to bring back into Quay County. The possibilities are endless, but we cannot wait for it to walk through our door, if we want it, we need to go get it! We are in a prime location as a major hub and have many locations that could accommodate the needs.”

Villanueva: “Some big issues facing the city are one grocery store to shop in and no department stores to shop for clothes; it’s hard for the elderly who are on a fixed income to travel out of town. Bad road conditions and too many potholes around our city.”

Why should voters cast a ballot for you?

Gutierrez: “I would hope that those who vote are voting not because they know me; rather, they are voting because they feel I can do the job and perform my duties in the manner that represents our community with great character and conviction. During my time as a commissioner, I have done my best to get things taken care of in a timely manner, whether it has been passing on concerns or suggestions and, yes, even frustrations for my constituents. I return all calls with answers or a quick visit. My door is always open to anyone who needs to visit with me. I have the desire to want Tucumcari to be great, and I do my part in volunteering in numerous organizations to do my share.”

Villanueva: “The citizens should vote for me to see some positive changes, and I want to help with any issue or concerns the citizens may have in our community or District 2. I want the citizens to know they can reach out to me anytime.”

What would you like to see the city accomplish during your term, if elected?

Gutierrez: “I would like to see the commission work towards economic development and infrastructure for our community. We also need to work with local nonprofits and organizations to try to promote events in our area, thus generating revenue. Reaching out to our legislature and getting funding that is available will help us achieve these goals. Tangible, realistic goals are what we need to set as a whole and work together, not against to achieve them. We the commission need to keep pushing to get things that our constituents would like done; we are there because and for them.”

Villanueva: “If elected, some of the issue I would like to see the city accomplish during my term is to bring in another department store and/or grocery store to help the citizens of Tucumcari and see some improvements to our city streets and around District 2.”

District 4

What prompted you to run?

Arias: “My love for Tucumcari is my main reason for running for office. As a proud Tucumcari High graduate, I have had the opportunity to leave, explore and return home. That is what has helped shape the person I am. It was out of love for family and my hometown that lead me back. I want nothing more than to see our great city become vibrant once again. The good days of old have passed, and the future lies ahead; the steps we take now will determine our success. If we do not turn the tide now, it will only be harder to become a place tourists want to visit and newcomers want to live. Our best days are ahead of us. It will take bold new action from the commission and city hall to bring us back from the brink.”

Hayoz: “Seeing the city slowly fall into a saddened state, the passion for the community has gone. This is indicative of the overgrown weeds and dilapidated buildings that are seen throughout the city. Crosswalks for our students have faded or have no paint. Streets are absolutely horrible! So many of them have potholes, and others are poorly maintained. This is commonly seen throughout the city.”

What are the big issues facing the city?

Arias: “The biggest issues facing Tucumcari are the most obvious: economy, jobs and adequate housing. The problem is a classic chicken-or-the-egg question. Our economy doesn’t improve without the jobs, the jobs don’t come without adequate housing, and we do not have housing without the economy becoming better. Though the commission does not have direct input when it comes to the type of businesses looking to come to Tucumcari, I am still concerned about developing our economy. It has been said to me we need big-box retailers in town; while I agree and support major retail chains, it will take local investment and local support to move us forward. We need an increase in small businesses and to support our business owners keeping tax dollars local. Nothing is an overnight fix; small steps will lead to leaps and bounds. Tucumcari is our home, and there is no investment too small that can’t help.”

Hayoz: “Again, the vacant properties, both commercial and residential, have overgrown weeds and piles of debris on them. Community members on their own time and dime should not be cleaning these properties but do so because they want more for Tucumcari. The dilapidated buildings on some of these properties present hazardous situations by providing housing for rodents and vagrants. These are nuisance properties that need to be addressed immediately. Owners need to be held responsible for the maintenance of their properties. This can be done by revisiting the city’s ordinances to meet the current needs of the city. Since the early ‘90s, the lack of economic development has hit the city hard. Tucumcari has yet to recover and needs to capitalize on what assets we already have in place, such as the Route 66 / Mother Road, neon signs, our railyard and station, dinosaurs and ranching industries. The economy in Tucumcari is slowly dying. I believe there needs to be an aggressive push to bring business back to Tucumcari and revitalize what has been lost.”

Why should voters cast a ballot for you?

Arias: “Trust. The citizens of District 4 should cast their vote for me out of trust to keep theirs and the city of Tucumcari’s best interests at heart. I do not have all the answers to fix the problems we face, but I can guarantee I will ask questions, seek advice and weigh the options that are within our means. The resources I have found in Santa Fe and across the state are valuable. Tucumcari is not alone in our issues. Communication with other municipalities in the state can help us in moving forward. I have sought these relationships during my MOLI classes and other New Mexico Municipal League-sponsored conferences. Following my last class on Nov. 6-8, I will become a Certified Municipal Official. It is after many hours spent in trainings, I can obtain this certification to better understand my role and responsibilities.”

Hayoz: “I have almost 20 years of experience with government agencies; 11 of those years being in municipal government as a city clerk/administrator. I am very familiar with the operations of the city from budgets to HR. Lastly, I have a desire to see Tucumcari succeed both economically and financially for future generations.”

What would you like to see the city accomplish during your term, if elected?

Arias: “In the short term, I wish to see the city regain the trust of the people. From citizens to city hall and even the city commissioners, I have heard too many times that people do not call in issues or attend meetings because they no longer trust us to help. I serve the citizens of District 4 and the city of Tucumcari. I will do what it takes to correct individual issues if they have followed the process and are within my scope. In the long term, I wish to see our city ordinances be reviewed, especially those that need to be amended or removed. Many of our ordinances are incomplete, inconsistent or outdated. This takes time to fix, but by doing so will ensure that expectations for all are clear. I also wish to see Tucumcari become a hub in the state for modern manufacturing, telecommunications and online commerce. We have the infrastructure, utilities and the desire. We only need the chance to prove ourselves.”

Hayoz: “There are very many things that I would like to tackle and see progress made on all of them! However, in reality, it takes time. Tucumcari didn’t get to that state that it is currently in overnight. I have the passion, experience and desire to the city and its residents. Together, we can see Tucumcari thrive!”


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