Portales mayor not running for state office
PORTALES — The only office Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega plans to hold in the next two years will be in his hometown.
The Democrat recently said he was considering a run at the New Mexico House seat in District 66. But on Tuesday, Ortega announced he would not seek that position until his term as mayor is up in 2006.
“After much thought and discussion with citizens of Portales, I see clearly that my role and responsibility right now and for the next two years is to be mayor of Portales and to help move our community forward with progress,” Ortega wrote in a press release.
Ortega said he decided to forgo running for the position on Monday, but waited to announce publicly until he spoke with his supporters.
The TV and operations director at Eastern New Mexico University’s KENW-TV would have faced Rep. Earlene Roberts, R-Lovington, for the District 66 seat. Roberts has been a legislator for 16 years and will be running a ninth term.
“Orlando is a fine young man and he makes a good mayor,” Roberts said. “Of course it is a relief not to have to look at a huge campaign this year.”
District 66 includes portions of Lovington, Portales, Artesia, Roswell and much of Roosevelt County. The district is a Republican stronghold, Roberts said.
“All of my district actually votes Republican very strong, because they’re very conservative.” Roberts said. “It seems as if the Republican philosophy more nearly fits the east side of the state.”
Ortega said citizens of Portales and other areas in eastern New Mexico were in support of him running for the seat. He said he doesn’t believe being a Democrat will hurt his chances in 2006.
“I feel very honored that many throughout New Mexico, both Democrats and Republicans, have considered me as a viable candidate,” Ortega wrote in the release. “I believe the people of this region are looking for fresh, new leadership. As long as I can provide that I don’t think party affiliation will be a major factor.”
The filing date for the District 66 position is on Tuesday. Roberts said she is unaware of anybody’s plan to run against her.