Estancia, like some other municipalities in the Tricounty area, is holding an election for its board of trustees Nov. 5, when four candidates will vie for two open seats.
Albert Lovato is the incumbent in Position 1, a 4-year term. He is unopposed, and did not respond to The Independent’s requests for an interview.
The Position 2 seat, which is a 2-year term, is being sought by incumbent Stella Chavez, Norma Jean Gonzalez, and Wayne Glover.
Glover also did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Stella Chavez was first appointed to the seat she now holds on the board of trustees, and was elected to her first full term in 2018; she’s seeking re-election to the seat.
Asked why she wants to sit on the board of trustees, she replied, “Because I like helping the community, it’s what I’ve always done. I always liked to be able to help.”
The Independent asked what Chavez sees as the biggest challenge facing Estancia. “There’s a lot of issues that people just really don’t see, a lot of infrastructure we’ve got to work on and get fixed, and those are high-dollar items,” she said. “Mainly infrastructure.”
She said the town has been working for several years to improve its water line, sewer line and sewer system. “We’re progressing little by little, and it takes a long time because it takes a lot of money.”
Asked about the town’s biggest strengths, Chavez pointed to the town’s library, public pool and park. “Our library I feel is the best in the county. … Our park and our lake definitely is a great asset to this town.”
She added, “Estancia is the town that holds the county fair, which is a very important part of the county. And everybody works hard to keep all of those assets going. All of the departments are doing really well and are a big asset to the town.”
The only public office Chavez has ever held is her current position on the town board.
Asked about her most relevant experience, she said her main knowledge is in property and real estate. “And I deal with accounting and lots of numbers,” she added.
Her vision for Estancia is “for it to grow and be beautiful.”
Asked what she would want to change if re-elected, Chavez said she thinks the town is on the right track. “I would be there to help in making decisions,” she said.
Economic development for the area is “a hard question,” Chavez said. “We’ve had help trying to market businesses, for example a grocery store. Unless things get better, the numbers don’t work for a business like a grocery store. I shop and buy my gas here, and support the local businesses.”
Asked if she has ever been convicted of a crime, Chavez answered, “No.”
Norma Jean Gonzalez
Norma Jean Gonzalez is running for a 2-year term in Position 2 on Estancia’s board of trustees. It’s the first time she has run for public office.
Asked why she is running, Gonzalez said, “I was born and raised in Estancia, and through the years lots of things have been going on. I’m not wanting to go in and change the whole system, but we need a change, and we’ve had the same people in there numerous years. I’m not saying they’re doing bad, we just need a change. Maybe I could make a difference.”
The biggest challenges the town faces are its finances and a lack of “activities for the seniors and for the youth,” Gonzalez said. “I really believe it’s the finances of the town. I don’t know how they would generate more, or put to better use than what I’ve seen before.”
She cited the recent draining and rehabilitation of Lake Arthur, questioning why it had been filled right before winter. “There could have been another higher priority at this time,” she said.
The town’s greatest strength is it’s people, Gonzalez said. “They tend to stick together. One family is hurting, pretty much the whole community is hurting. I think Estancia is pretty much united when it comes to helping other families.”
While she has never held public office, Gonzalez points to her experience working with the public through the county’s domestic violence program and project office transportation department, and said she knows about the needs of the community, along with knowing a lot of people. “I know a lot of the needs of the people in town, what people are looking for, what people are happy about,” she said, adding, “I know what people are wanting and how, just from personal experience.”
Gonzalez said her vision for Estancia is that “there would be more business coming in, more revenue for the town, more people, and more activities for youth and the seniors.”
Asked what she would want to change about the way the town is governed if elected, she said the town is governed pretty well. “The mayor’s pretty awesome,” she said, “the trustees have done a good job. There’s nothing major that I would want to change, but I would like to have a little input into getting it done.”
To foster economic development, Gonzalez said the town could make the process for getting a business license easier. “Some people have said it’s hard to get licenses,” she said. “Just making it a little more business-friendly.”
Asked if she has ever been convicted of a crime, Gonzalez answered, “No.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.