The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Candidates split on city priorities


February 2, 2020

Mathew Brock

Sandra Taylor-Sawyer takes her turn answering a question at the mayor candidate forum as fellow candidates, from left, Raymond Mondragon, Michael Morris, Stephen North and Rube Render look on.

CLOVIS - Recreational marijuana will soon be legal, whether they like it or not, and no one supported the idea of declaring Clovis a "sanctuary city" for hot-button political issues.

But while they all basically agree on those topics, Clovis' five mayoral candidates have wide-ranging views on city priorities.

About 50 people crowded into the Ingram Room of the Clovis-Carver Public Library on Thursday evening to listen as each candidate attempted to distinguish themselves from the field.

The forum, hosted by a group calling itself "Concerns That Matter," went over two hours with each candidate weighing in on three pre-written questions before answering another three from the crowd.

Those hoping to succeed retiring Mayor David Lansford are Raymond Mondragon, Michael Morris, Stephen North, R.L. "Rube" Render and Sandra Taylor-Sawyer.

The first round of questions asked candidates how they would make themselves accessible to the public, how they might work with other organizations like the city commission and what they thought are the most pressing issues for the city.

Mondragon's biggest concerns were supporting local emergency services like the police and fire departments, as well as military and industry interests in Clovis.

Taylor-Sawyer said the city needs to address its infrastructure, senior citizen services and its animal care and euthanasia rates.

Render wanted to talk about crime and said it has been increasing over the years and needs to be addressed. He added he'd like to work with the police to reinstate many of the city's neighborhood watch programs.

North said it's important to pursue retention for professionals in the city, encourage economic growth and strengthen various quality of life changes provided by the city like parks.

Morris wants to work to improve the city's economic growth and public safety.

Each of the candidates also expressed the importance of securing a long-term water supply for the city.

After the pre-arranged questions, the rules changed slightly for the crowd questions. Each candidate was allowed to weigh in, but not required. Those questions are as follows:

With the touch and go relationship between the city and county, what do you think the problem is and how do you propose fixing that?

Render, Mondragon and Taylor-Sawyer each cited past experiences negotiating and finding compromises with the county on the city's behalf.

Render said many of the incidents where the city and county had to butt heads had to do with financial obligations or shared services.

"It's really just sitting down and listening, making eye to eye contact and making the best decisions for county residents for now and the future," Taylor-Sawyer said.

What do you think about the legalization of recreational marijuana and the economic impact it comes with? What might be the downsides?

The candidates agreed they'd have to put their personal feelings on the matter aside as legalization of recreational marijuana was going to be inevitable and that the best thing to do would be to acknowledge the state's decisions and take measures to regulate it and benefit from the new source of tax revenue.

"We don't want Portales to legalize it and have all our citizens simply travel to Portales to buy it and then maybe even create safety concerns by perhaps using it on the way home," Morris said.

Render said that even if the city created its own legislation to prohibit sales it would be superseded by state law with how the current state legislation is written.

What is your opinion on Clovis being listed or adopted as a Second Amendment Sanctuary City?

Each of the candidates said they were either against the idea of sanctuary cities or felt it was outside the scope of the mayor's duties, but all said they remain supportive of the Second Amendment.

"One of the hardest things to do in a political environment is to maintain a sense of consistency," Render said. "I am adamantly opposed to the idea of sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. So I have an extremely difficult time being open to the idea of Second Amendment sanctuary cities. I support the Second Amendment, but when laws are passed, laws are passed."


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