Saturday, February 6, 2016


Ken Giove

 I arranged to meet Ken Giove at the Village Inn on Mesa Street and when I arrived he offered to take me on a tour of Sunland Park in his SUV.  Giove has had a long career doing various things, including a stint with the Merchant Marines, 23 years in the Border Patrol, owning a restaurant cleaning business, and in the past few years since retiring in 2010 attending Sunland Park City Council meetings and involving himself in the affairs of the city.  His wife is from Sunland Park, and his job with the Border Patrol kept him near the border, so he is not exactly a newcomer to the region.  By all accounts from other candidates he has done his homework and has a strong understanding of the history of the city council, its problems and its promises.

Giove drove me through various neighborhoods in Sunland Park, pointing out planning screw-ups, code enforcement problems, city facilities, and the like, while patiently answering my questions about water, the border crossing, relations with the state, and other topics.  His overall take is that Sunland Park needs to lay out an internal infrastructure--computerize city records, organize the public works department, get software programs installed so that departments can readily exchange information, update and modernize city ordinances, and so on--that will enhance the city's ability to improve the quality of life of the residents, while at the same time trying to build a consensus around major issues affecting Sunland Park's relationships with its neighbors, and planning and executing strategies for getting there.  In spite of spending years studying Sunland Park he was quick to point out things he didn't understand, lapses in his historical understanding, and details surrounding city council actions in the past.  He seemed particularly preoccupied at the time with finding ways to fix the senior citizens center, a theme that would be repeated again and again in my interviews with the other candidates.  Almost certainly this is one of the issues voters care about this year.

Jesus Nuñez

Mr. Nuñez was born in Durango, Mexico, but has lived in the region for 30 years and is a U.S. citizen.  Mr. Nuñez is a shipping and receiving administrator for NCH marketing Services in El; Paso.  He graduated with a two-year degree in industrial engineering a the Technological Institute of Durango, and has worked in El Paso for six years.  He is familiar with what building materials cost, with the strengths and weaknesses of different technologies, skills that could be put to good use in evaluating proposed city projects.

Nuñez appears to have gotten interested in Sunland Park as a result of the poor image the city developed after 2012.  As he put it, people are proud to be from Sunland Park, but they are not proud of the leadership there.  He used the term "professional" in various contexts to describe what he feels is often lacking in the city's leadership.  Sunland Park councilors, he said, do not work as a team.  Professionals know how to work together, as do athletes engaged in team sports:  some people work offense, others defense, each player has a role and all work together to win.  He has attended city council meetings in Santa Fe where, he said, the council works as a team, and he feels he could contribute to making this happen if elected.  He knows a good deal about how stuff works, given his industrial engineering background, and he is particularly interested in committing Sunland Park to design its future around sustainable energy concepts, such as low-energy electricity, solar energy, and so on.  In the long run investing in updated technology will save the taxpayers money, he said.  I found him to project a relaxed, professional demeanor.

When I inquired about his motivation to run for this position, he said he had initially hoped to be elected so he could work with Ken Giove, whose work on the council he admires and would like to emulate.  But the redistricting process wasn't finished until this year, and it turned out his residence now falls within Giove's district, forcing him to run for the same seat.  "I am not running against Giove," he said.  "I am running for myself."

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