Mayor participates in listening session
October 28, 2020
Tucumcari Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield participated Friday in a listening session presided over by New Mexico’s senior U.S. senator that urged additional federal relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) heard from five New Mexico residents, including Litchfield, during a teleconference.
Litchfield said many of Tucumcari’s businesses are struggling because of a lack of tourism caused by the pandemic.
She noted many nail and beauty salon workers are paid by commission and thus aren’t eligible for previously enacted federal CARES Act relief funds.
Litchfield said a local dentist’s office was forced to close because of the virus, temporarily laying seven employees.
She said city government tried to avoid layoffs, but a reduction in many workers’ hours reduced benefits for them and their families.
Litchfield said the city has encouraged restaurants, which have been forced to “reinvent themselves” with outdoor dining during the pandemic, and nonprofit organizations such as the VFW Post 2528 and Elks Lodge 1172, which remain closed because they serve alcohol, to apply for CARES Act money to reimburse their expenses.
“In rural New Mexico, we sometimes feel like we’re forgotten because we’re out in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “But we still need help. It’s an economic crisis for rural New Mexico. Any help you can give us, we’d really appreciate it.”
Udall also heard from Santa Clara Pueblo Gov. Michael Chavarria, Raton city manager Scott Berry, furloughed Albuquerque restaurant worker Michelle Zetterholm and furloughed Santa Fe restaurant worker Molly Dietze-Kennedy about the pandemic’s effects.
Efforts in Washington to pass additional coronavirus relief legislation have stalled. President Donald Trump and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, have advocated a large relief bill, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has urged a more scaled-down version.
Udall is not seeking a third term as senator. He will be replaced by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, or former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti, a Republican, after the general election.