A total of 150 people attended the Chaves County Federation of Republican Women luncheon, resulting in record attendance. The reason for the interest? The group brought in four speakers, Wednesday, to discuss pressing political issues of the day, including Mayor Del Jurney, mayoral candidate Dennis Kintigh, Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell President Dr. John Madden and former Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Michael Gottlieb.
Both Jurney and Kintigh are running for office. Each presented his point of view about the upcoming election.
First to speak, Jurney spoke about the accomplishments made during his administration, including new openness and transparency in city government.
He stated that government officials meet regularly with the Roswell Police Department and Parks and Recreation Department. “We meet monthly with the (Chaves) County and with Dexter and Hagerman city governments.”
Jurney said the city had extended the aviation industry with incentives supported by state representatives. He pointed to growth in the area of alternative power while working with Leprino foods to affect expansion and support of local agriculture.
He announced improvements made with the Roswell Police Department accomplished by hiring a police attorney, upgrading the computer systems and recent improvements in police staffing.
Jurney urged people to consider the positives. “Our general fund continues to grow while other cities in New Mexico struggle. … This is no time to change players.”
Kintigh expressed his sorrow at the tragic shootings at Berrendo Middle School. He asked people to remember in their prayers the first responders who “roll up on the scene to find broken children.”
For Kintigh, the most important issue was crime. “We cannot pretend we don’t have a crime problem…. With nine homicides in the last year, Roswell now ranks with Washington, D.C.”
While he acknowledged staffing had improved recently, he said retention remains a problem. He said that between January 2011 and December 2013, 48 officers left the police department.
Kintigh also discussed the number of derelict structures in Roswell, which he stated were not only an eyesore but also magnets for crime.
Madden discussed the mill levy vote. Early voting for this issue opened this week. He provided charts and graphs in the form of a handout. He reminded the audience that ENMU-R had already completed a number of capital projects and the former bond to be retired this year, meaning that the apparent increase was not as high as it appeared. He stressed that the people of Roswell saw the positive impact each and every day. He also noted that ENMU-R nursing students had the highest scores in the state with a 100 percent pass rate on New Mexico State Boards.
Gottlieb presented the opposition, discussing the cost of potential tax increases for the property owner. His emphasis was on rising prices across the board for the consumer while personal income often remains static, with a 70 percent increase in water, increases in home and health insurance.
“The dollars they (people) save are not worth what they once were.”