CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Selmus Price, president of the Clovis chapter of the NAACP, introduces moderator Dick Smith at the start of a questions and answers forum with the candidates for city office that took place Tuesday night at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Candidates for Clovis City Commission seats unanimously supported the Ute Water Project and other ways to bring water to Clovis, but added other suggestions for how to better use what water the city has now.
The seven candidates, vying for four commission spots in the March 4 municipal election, touched on water, controversy over a proposed ethanol plant and other issues Monday night in a candidate forum organized by the Clovis chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Dick Smith, the forum moderator, asked all candidates their views on the Ute Water Project, city infrastructure and budget, and the city’s role in Cannon Air Force Base’s transition to a special operations mission.
The following candidates spoke at the forum, held at Clovis-Carver Public Library:
• Rosalie Riley — The floral shop owner said everybody wants to see Clovis with less trash on the streets and highways, but few get involved.
“Whenever we do Clovis Pride, we have to beg people to pick up trash,” said Riley, who asks for volunteer time to anybody who approaches her business for a donation.
She was in favor of an ordinance requiring all trash placed in city Dumpsters to be bagged, and said part of the reason many roads are in poor shape is because heavy trucks aren’t required to use truck bypasses that are set aside.
Her opponent, incumbent Randy Crowder, had scheduling conflicts out of town.
• Ben McDaniel, who operates a family furniture business, said the city will feel a pinch with dwindling numbers while Cannon transitions, but believes there’s no status quo.
“You either grow or you shrivel and blow away,” he said. “I prefer to grow.”
Beautification of Clovis, he said, requires city involvement, but will go nowhere if people don’t take pride in their property.
• Incumbent Fred Van Soelen, an attorney with the 9th Judicial District, agreed with most candidates that Clovis needs beautification for the men and women of Cannon Air Force Base, but it should be a priority for Clovis with or without military presence.
Van Soelen addressed the ethanol plant, and noted he voted against a commission resolution to oppose the plant. He said it wasn’t the commission’s role to decide, and he wanted to let things go through a proper process.
“The process worked, which is what I approved the whole time.”
• Incumbent Robert Sandoval, a retired postal worker, said he opposed the ethanol plant location vehemently and loudly, and was happy citizens banded together against the company.
Sandoval said that issue, and issues such as beautification, could be handled more smoothly with cooperation from city and county governments.
“It’s a slow process,” Sandoval said. “I’m very fortunate to be a city and county commissioner, where I’ve seen both sides of the fence.”
• Fidel Madrid, a parcel delivery driver, felt beautification was important for incoming base personnel. “We need to make sure we treat these people right,” he said.
He added that the state has a role in beautification, as well, since many weeds are on state highways.
He would like to see improvements to Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Hull Street overpass.
• Chris Bryant, a restaurant owner, felt it was vital to provide a great atmosphere, aesthetically and financially for base personnel. In that vein, he would like to see Hotel Clovis renovated, but said the cost is likely prohibitive.
He felt streets needed work, but felt citizens in every district deserve a share of improvement. “The community doesn’t stop at 14th and Main,” he said.
• David Briseno, a Clovis schools official, said he supported the Ute Water Project, but said conserving water is part of the equation and the city should explore turf in city parks.
Water usage was one reason he was against the ConAgra ethanol plant. As president of Concerned Citizens of Curry County, a group created to oppose the plant, he felt elected officials were derelict in not acting on the plant’s application for an air quality permit.
“I wasn’t going to be affected by that plant, but somebody was and somebody needed to stand up and take a voice.”
The company announced in January it was withdrawing its application for an air quality permit. Citizens were concerned the plant was located too close to residential areas.
Incumbent Lunell Winton will not seek re-election.