In place of the normal monthly Journey Opinion Poll, we’ve decided to ask the candidates for Council Districts 1 & 3 a few questions to better acquaint them with the voters. Enjoy and VOTE MARCH 12!
1. What will be your two most important priorities as City Councilor?
Mary Ann Armijo: Crime, residential burglaries, graffiti etc., have increased. We need more police presence immediately. We also need to get our budget straight and have transparency as to what is going on in regards to the plans this administration has for us. Clean up Gallup.
Debbie Garcia:The two most important priorities I see are making sure there is accountability, openness and transparency in City Hall (citizens want to be informed of what is going on in the city) and Gallup’s infrastructure needs. If we want to bring economic development, the creation of jobs and tourism to Gallup we need to continue to work hard to address our infrastructure needs.
Linda Garcia:First, I would like to improve quality of life for the residents of District One by improving sidewalks and cleaning up drug houses. Second, I would like to better utilize and promote the Downtown Walkway and Courthouse Square.
Yogash Kumar: I believe Economic Development by utilizing our highway and rail access to create jobs in our community. And the other thing is to take a more active role in the needs of our children in the community.
Bryan Wall: To see the city grow, keeping it clean and attractive – setting goals and objectives regarding upkeep of our infrastructure and being transparent.
2. How do you plan to continue to grow Gallup as a tourist destination/economy?
MA: We need to sufficiently increase Lodgers Tax funding to our approved and new events, and tourist related assets. We should have projects ready for when the federal government releases money to communities that want to bring manufacturing industry. Relax rigid development standards.
DG:Since tourism is my passion and Gallup is such a unique city with so much to offer, I would make sure that we continue promoting Gallup through an easy to access and informative website, advertisement, continuing to work with the New Mexico Tourism Department and partnerships with such entities as the Tourism Association of New Mexico (TANM), New Mexico Magazine, etc., along with making sure there is a presence at major events and conferences.
LG: I would play to our strengths by promoting our Native culture and outdoor adventure venues (hiking, shooting range, ATV course and archery range). I would also upgrade our existing sports facilities to draw people to Gallup.
YK: We will need to use what we have from the Lodgers Tax to promote our community and its assets like Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, arts and crafts, and our trails. The return on a dollar spent is thirty to one.
BW:We need to have more events and continue to advertise our many cultures, beautiful scenery, Indian jewelry, great artwork, bike trails, rodeos, and delicious Mexican cuisine.
3. What is your opinion/view on Gallup’s public intoxication situation?
MA: In my opinion, it is the worst I have seen it in a long time, the pan handling, the filth, trash etc. This needs to be cleaned up. We need to have businesses post no trespassing signs on their property so police can pick up some of our intoxicated people and hopefully take them to NCI where they can be held for 72 hours and given the chance at treatment.
DG: Living on the North Side and so close to downtown, Gallup has a very real problem with public intoxication and I witness it on a daily basis. I would like to see more police presence but I also realize that we have a shortage of police officers so we might have to consider hiring more community service officers whose job it would be to assist the police officers in patrolling areas known for public intoxication. I know it is impossible to cover all the areas impacted by this problem but if we address it area by area we might be able to see some signs of progress.
LG: We have a public intoxication problem. I would begin by focusing on our downtown area and increasing the police presence. I would utilize community service aids as downtown ambassadors. The presence of someone in authority will make a difference.
YK: I believe it is a problem for us. The important thing is to make sure NCI gets the funding it needs to continue to operate and possibly look at other things to curb the issue.
BW: Every city has this problem. I believe drugs are a bigger problem and it is illegal! Judges are too lenient with fines and sentences. We need more alcohol and drug programs and the Navajo Nation should help with funding, especially with NCI.
4. What is your position on a downtown Train Quiet Zone?
MA: I support the Quiet Zone, and in working with BNSF to share the cost. And in looking at the liability issue to where we can protect the city from great financial damages. While doing this look at calming traffic on Highway 66 so we can get it all done at the same time. What happened to the pedestrian cross walks? We can’t see THEM.
DG: I back the Quiet Zone initiative. I understand that there are many people in Gallup that have grown up with and love the sound of trains, but I think the time has come for Gallup to go “Quiet.” I have met with visitors staying in hotels located on the west and north sides of Gallup saying that the trains going through Gallup blaring their horns all night was very annoying. If we want to continue to promote Gallup and bring in visitors and have “Heads in Beds” we need to address this issue.
LG: I favor the concept of a Quiet Zone. Train noise affects both Downtown businesses and residents and other parts of District 1. I will work with the railroad, the city and my constituents to find a solution.
YK: I have always been a supporter of the Quiet Zone. As an operator of a lodging establishment, it is not hard to figure out what the people visiting our community think about the issues we have. I am on the frontline when it comes to comments by these travelers.
BW: I am a big supporter of the Quiet Zone.
5. Does the City need to improve its infrastructure and, if so, how would you propose to finance infrastructure improvements?
MA: Yes is an important and urgent need in our city – aging water pipe lines, deteriorating roads, striping, curb and gutter, crumbling sidewalks, waste water treatment plant. We now charge a 4 % environment tax every month and this can be argued that roads etc. are also environmental issues and we have millions of dollars in this fund. Plus we can restructure retiring bonds to fund these projects. IT CAN BE DONE.
DG: Without a doubt the city needs to improve its lack of infrastructure. We need to try and find funding through whatever means available: continuing to request help from and secure funding from our state legislators, going back and taking a look at all the bonds the city has, determining what projects are a priority and which ones are not and redirecting those funds and using it for the much needed infrastructure improvements. We could also take a look to see if monies are available from GJU funds that could be used for infrastructure improvements. We need to remember that without Infrastructure, Economic Development, Tourism and Quality of Life will be hard to sustain.
LG: Yes, we need to improve our infrastructure. I would look first to any excess money that our utility department generates as a source of revenue and then consider whether we should begin a bonding program specifically dedicated to infrastructure improvements.
YK: Infrastructure has been an ongoing issue with the community. In certain parts of our town the utilities are very old and the best approach would be a systematic upgrading of these utilities and roads. We would use the general fund and/or the enterprise funds for this purpose.
BW: Yes, yes, yes. We should have a 1-, 3-, 5- and/or 10-year plan to fix infrastructure, repairing the oldest first. City manager and department heads need to apply for grant money, also working with the Council of Governments!