Candidates for the incoming commission in Edgewood let residents know where they stand on many issues—with six of the seven candidates in substantial agreement.
Edgewood residents voted to change the form of government from its current mayor-council format to a commission-manager format. The new commission will be seated Jan. 1.
The new commission has five districts, with contested races for only two positions.
The contested races are Kenneth Brennan and Ralph Hill vying for District 1 and Filandro Anaya and John Bassett running for District 4.
Running unopposed are Audrey Jaramillo in District 3, Jerry Powers in District 2, and Sterling Donner in District 5.
Donner wasn’t able to attend the forum, but did speak with The Independent for this story, as well as submitting a written introduction for the forum.
Jaramillo is the only member of Edgewood’s current governing body that is running for the commission.
The forum was hosted by The Independent and the Greater East Mountain Chamber at the old Edgewood Elementary gym, and attended by about 50 people. It was also livestreamed on The Independent’s Facebook page.
The format of the forum presented a variety of questions, with short answers, at 30 seconds or a minute.
All candidates agree that roads, quality of life in Edgewood, trails and recreational activities are top priorities, along with ongoing work on the town’s wastewater system.
Among the six candidates at the forum, only Bassett spoke in favor of Edgewood taking over the Epcor water system, something his administration started exploring through its attorney.
The others all said that the town should not take over a private entity, and that it would not be capable of running a water system, while Bassett said it was worth looking at.
All candidates agreed that Edgewood needs more trails and recreational activities.
All candidates agreed that Edgewood should and will grow, but none offered concrete details on what that growth might look like.
Both Donner and Jaramillo said their Christian faith led them to run for the position.
Asked what his vision of Edgewood is, Brennan said he and his family fell in love with Edgewood 12 years ago, and that he wants to “foster that same feeling and continue it on to the future.” In an interview with The Independent, he said, “I love this town and the people in it, even the ones that do not see eye to eye with me. Their opposition debates help me look at the issue from different angles.”
Hill said roads are his highest priority, and said he is willing to listen to constituents. “I really believe in working with the people, not fighting. There’s too much dysfunction and disunity, and I can get along with people. I’ll listen to them, is the main thing.”
Jaramillo said in an interview that what she brings to the table is experience with government, both as an elected official and professionally, mentioning her eight years on the Moriarty-Edgewood School District, which uses the commission-manager format.
“It does help when you have someone who knows the context of what happened in the past,” she said, adding that she hopes “I could help with the transition between the two, council to commission.”
“My vision for Edgewood is what is your vision,” Anaya said, adding that the town can grow, or keep its rural character.
“I’m running because I’m proud of the work we’ve done thus far, and I want to keep it going,” Bassett said in an interview with The Independent. “What do I bring? Lots of knowledge and experience. … I know how stuff got to where it was, the history. When you’re starting over from brand new, I think that would be a tremendous help in shortening the learning curve.”
Asked about the pending court case and allegations of corruption against him, Bassett answered, “That’s all it is, allegations. Nothing’s been proven, I haven’t got my day in court, my due process. Changing gears to a whole new form of government is stupid. Last time it was new, I sat on the sidelines and watched it careen around like a drunken car.”
“Obviously if we want the town of Edgewood to thrive, it has to grow in a controlled way,” Donner said. “My vision for Edgewood is to really get that infrastructure in place before we do that.”
He added that the town should “fix the wastewater treatment plant, and fix the water quality.”
He is in favor of some kind of public-private partnership with Epcor to address water quality and said he would “look at further” smaller lot sizes or denser development than is currently allowed.
Donner, 32, said he feels his age is an assett. “Now is the time to step up and learn from the previous generations, their pitfalls, successes, and come up with new says of doing things,” he said. “Edgewood is still very much in the analog era.”
Powers did not return a request for an interview.
Early voting is now underway in local elections around the state and will continue through Oct. 30. In Edgewood, early voting is at town hall.
Election Day is Nov. 2, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more election information, visit the Santa Fe County Clerk’s website, santafecountynm.gov/clerk.
A recorded video of the forum was made by Penfold Live; that recording will also be available through both the Chamber’s and The Independent’s social media.