Candidate for Santa Fe County Commission in the southern District 3 area Rudy Nelson Garcia said that despite two DWI convictions and several arrests, he is staying in the race—and he contends that the experiences make him a more qualified candidate.

Garcia spoke to The Independent Oct. 18 said the experiences are in his past, and added, “There are some irresponsible things I’ve done in the past and my youth that no other elected official has that experience. I’ve been in jail. How many politicians have been in jail? … It makes me a lot more accountable, a lot more reliable to move forward for individuals with the same situation. I can tell you what policymakers need to address with jail and substance abuse problems.”

Garcia has worked for Santa Fe County for 28 years, in the zoning department, and assessor’s department, and currently serves as legislative liaison and projects manager. He points to the First Choice medical center in Edgewood as an example of work he has done to benefit the area.

He also serves on the Santa Fe Board of Education.

Garcia was charged with DWI in 1999, and again in 2003 and 2007; the latter two resulted in convictions. He was also charged with driving without insurance, speeding, and driving with expired registration.

The candidate expressed frustration with reporters asking “about the negative stuff,” and said, “It appears nobody’s perfect out there.”

Asked if his actions showed a disregard for the law, Garcia answered, “My actions regarding the law will allow me to advance forward. I’m a different person right now, not living my past life. I learned from my mistakes and will continue to move forward.”

He said he “has a beer or two once in awhile.”

Garcia is opposed in the race by Mike Anaya, who held the position formerly as a Democrat. He is running as an independent candidate, without party affiliation.

Anaya did not return requests for an interview before The Independent went to press.

On the issues facing the southern area of Santa Fe County, Garcia said his priorities would include forging partnerships between the county, the town, and private enterprise to “move forward the town’s sewer system, the parks, the open space and trails.”

Garcia also said that improvements to the senior center located in Edgewood, and owned and managed by the county, would be a high priority.

He said that spending $4.3 million to build the equestrian arena in Stanley was not the best use of the county’s money.

He said if elected he would work to open a satellite office in Edgewood again, and would hold regular meetings in the Edgewood area to hear from constituents.

Asked about economic development for the area, Garcia said the term has “a really broad definition from the entire state to each individual county in the state of New Mexico,” and said he wants to know what the residents and the town of Edgewood think are the best economic ideas for the area.

“I’m ready to move forward and to look to the future of Santa Fe County, and myself as well,” he concluded.

Garcia said he would attend a candidates forum hosted by The Independent Oct. 21 at the Edgewood Community Center. The event will feature a forum for candidates for Legislature for districts 22 and 50 at 2 p.m., and will include a meet and greet for area candidates starting at 4 p.m.