Friday, February 5, 2016


Olga Arguelles

Ms. Arguelles has been a health care worker for many years and is a substitute teacher at Gadsden School District.  She was a student teacher at NMSU and then got cancer and had to drop out one year before graduating. "I got to know a lot of people in Sunland Park as a health care worker," she said, "and I have never disconnected from the community."  She stated clearly that if elected she will support Mayor Javier Perea's major initiatives.  "There are too many personal agendas on the council, and people asked me to run," she said.  She has known Perea since her daughter went to school with him.

Describing what Sunland Park needs, Arguelles used the term "recuperación" (in Spanish) several times.  "Hubo tanta falta de respeto en las juntas que había que traer policía," she said.  "Era como una familia después de un divorcio."  "The lack of respect shown at meetings was such that it was necessary to bring the police to assure order.  It was like a family after a divorce.  We need a period of recuperation."

Asked what she sees as the major problems facing the city, she mentioned schools, health care, housing, "y sanar las heridas de los negociantes." (heal the wounds of the business communicty).  Not all of these can be solved by the city council, but we can prove that we can act as a united community once again ("volvernos a unir").  She is in favor of the international crossing, and would like to be able to get a better deal for Sunland than the contract the city was forced to sign with CRRUA, under pressure from Governor Richardson.  "We need to see what we can do," she said, "but we may not be in a position to fight it."  Speaking of the new redistricting of the city council, finished last month, she asserted that the city was badly gerrymandered and redistricting was needed.

I asked what, if she won, she would like people to say about her, say, ten years from now.  "I fought, I had integrity, I gave it my best, and I knew (she said with a smile) when to get out."

Isabel Santos

Ms. Santos is an incumbent city councilor, having been elected in 2012.  She also worked in the City from 2008-2011.  "Daniel Salinas (the mayor who resigned after the lap dancing incident) fired me," she said with a hint of pride, "even though I had seniority."  She prepares carefully for every meeting, she said, studying the agenda, doing research, and asking questions." I know what the issues are when I go into the meetings."

One of her concerns is the water supply.  We were forced to sign the contract with CRRUA, she said, but services have not improved.  They raise rates frequently, the water has unacceptable levels of arsenic, most of us buy bottled water for drinking, and our water is being controlled from the outside.

Santos has a number of complaints about the way the city agenda is prepared.  It is written by the department heads, handed over to the city clerk, and the clerk and the mayor write the agenda, instead of it being a collaborative effort with council members.  Often things that the council has already disapproved are placed on the agenda for action again and again, until votes change and the item is approved.  She cited as an example the vote to redistrict the council.  "Ken Giove was able to get the item placed on the agenda ten times," she said, "The mayor wanted to redistrict now because people in Sunland Park (referring to the Southern part of the city) don't like him, and he needed to get votes from the new areas."  As examples why he is disliked, she said he voted in favor of the rate hike at CRRUA and has had difficulty getting support from the state. 

Coalitions within the council shift according to the subject matter at hand, she said.  But she appears to identify on many issues with Jessica Avila (the old District 6), and Sergio Carrillo.  Ken Giove, she says, is closer on most issues to the mayor than he is to Avila, Carrillo, and herself.  Carrillo is often at odds with the mayor, she asserted, in part because he fights for his district in the southern part of the city as opposed to the north.  She said she feels alienated from other councilors, and is frequently bypassed in decision making.
She said for the campaign she would spend only whatever money is returned to her from the IRS, and that will be very little.

No comments: