Four running for two MV City Council seats
MONTE VISTA — About 50 people attended the Meet the Candidates for City Council at the Outcalt Event and Conference at SLV Ski-Hi Complex. The election is Nov. 7.
At the meeting, the four candidates were all asked the same specific questions and had one minute to give their response. The race for two open seats features two incumbents — Loren Howard and Martha Lock — and two newcomers — Sheila Sanders and Brad Watson.
All four candidates were at the meeting. Damian Arellano was the emcee for the meeting. Colorado State Representative Mathew Martinez (D) was also at the meeting.
The meeting began with the candidates introducing themselves. Each had 3 minutes for this portion.
Lock went first and said, “There is a lot of time and work involved in being an effective City Counselor including the demand that I be fully vested in the best interest of our community. I have formed valuable relationships with city, county, regional, and state representatives, and the community. As the mother of grown children, a grandmother of several children in Monte Vista, a business owner, and a property owner, I realize the importance of responsible and thoughtful growth. Our future city leaders are growing up right now, and they must see a strong example of stewardship. I am urging you to carefully consider all these things as you cast your vote for city counselor. When you look at the economy, and the accomplishments that have been made please know that we need to keep Monte Vista moving forward. I am asking for your support and vote.”
Sanders followed and said, “I am a native of Monte Vista. My parents are natives of Monte Vista. My father worked for the city. I was born and raised here. This is my chance to give back to my community, to hear what my community’s concerns are, to take them before the council and see if we can’t work together to fix all their concerns and problems. Without a strong, organized, person up front to speak on their behalf, we don’t get anywhere. We have to have the community and city council united as one. Through unity we can move mountains. I am ready for change. Let’s do it to where it’s effective and it helps our community. That’s why I would like to be your city counselor.”
Watson then said, “I have lived here about 5 years, but my wife grew up in the valley. My job has been serving the farming community. I am an electrician I help wherever I can. I am raising three children. I don’t know if I am the best suited one for this position, but I figured I want to be active in my community and take an active role in it. I want to make sure the town is growing and thriving, and the community is doing well. I plan to raise my kids here. I want to do my part the best that I can to help out the community. I am not a politician, and I am still trying to catch up on all the things going on in the city. I want to take more of an active role in my community, and that’s about it.”
Howard concluded the introductions with, “I have lived here in Monte Vista for 12 years. I was appointed to the council last December when there was a vacancy. I put my name in a hat for that. I just recently retired from San Luis Valley Rural Electric. I had thought about being a part of the City Council in the past, but with work that would have been hard. I knew I was retiring, I put my name in a hat and council appointed me. Why do I want to be on the City Council? Well, my motivation is to contribute to society. My wife and I live here in Monte Vista and plan to stay here until we can’t live on our own anymore. What are my interests for Monte Vista? My answer is jobs. This town needs jobs. I have been on an economical development board in the past, from where I came from. What Monte Vista needs more than anything else is the jobs. I want to help with that.”
Arellano then began the question-and-answer portion of the night.
Candidates were asked what they believed the role of the City Council is in the community.
Howard said the role was to work with residents and staff of the city to provide guidance and council as needed.
Watson stated that council members are the citizens’ voice, for every topic that comes up council members must decide if it serves the citizens of the town or works against the citizens of the town.
Sanders explained that the role of a council member is to work for the community's needs.
Lock stated that the role of a council member was provided in their mission statement. Lock also stated that the job of the council is to set policy and take care of the legislative side of things, by guiding staff and the City Manager, and working to direct them for the health and well-being and safety of everyone in the community.
They were asked what they thought of Proposition HH.
They were all asked what they hoped to accomplish or change as a council member.
Sanders stated that she wants to be the council person that benefits the community and does not hinder the community.
“I want to be the council member that looks at all the decisions that have to be made through both sides, to better serve the community,” Sanders said. “I don’t want to just be on the inside looking out, I want to be on the outside looking in too. So that we can better the community and know that every step we are taking is benefiting the community.”
Watson said he is looking at the city and its growth.
“I would like to be part of the plan to help the city move forward,” he said. “I think the city has GiGi and others, and they are just incredible employees. I would like to help everyone succeed with the staff that the city has. I think the key would be just to help as much as I can to help everyone move forward, to help the city move forward.”
Howard stated that as a council member he sees the needs of the city.
“The city needs jobs; the city needs businesses. In the broad sense I would hope to be able to help bring businesses, to help bring jobs, just make the city a place where people in the community would want to live,” Howard said.
Lock said she believes economic development is important, but she also sees the need now to help the police department with new laws.
“We can develop economically all we want to, but we also need to have a safe community, and have our police officers protected, with their hands untied,” Lock said. “I have spoken with Chief Dingfelder and Matt Martinez and other state officials to see what we can do with these new laws that have been passed, so that they work for our community.”
Attendees could also ask questions for the candidates to answer as long as the format was followed, meaning each candidate was given time to answer. A question about downtown parking and possibly closing some streets was posed, but solely to Lock. When it became clear the format was not going to be followed, and it devolved into a back and forth, the emcee put a stop to it and moved to another question.