With this series, The Independent wants to create a spotlight on important community leaders and officials in the small towns and cities we cover. We think it is important that the public gets to know the people who help make important decisions. Maybe it’s your town’s mayor, or the police chief in the next city over that you want to know more about. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Is there somebody you think would be a good candidate for this series? Let us know! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
In this profile, we’re getting to know Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart. Do you know who he considers the “light of his life”? Or what his time in the military was like? Want to know a little bit more about how he juggles his life as mayor and a hardware store owner? Keep on reading.
The Independent: So, starting off, where are you from?
Ted Hart: I’m from Moriarty. I’m a graduate from Moriarty High School. I graduated in 1985. I’ve lived here my whole life. Did four years in the military after that in the Air Force. I was Air Force Security Police. I got out in 1990 and got with my dad and my brother and we ran Hart’s Hardware Store. I’ve done that since 1990. I got into politics as a city councilor. My first term was in ’98. I did three terms as city council and I’m on my third term as mayor.
Okay, so I will get to all of that eventually, but I want to start off more so when you were a kid and in high school. Have you ever had a nickname?
A lot. Theo, T, uhhh that’s all that a lot of people really call me.
What kind of activities did you like to do as a kid?
Sports was my big thing. I loved bowling.
Bowling? That’s interesting. Was there a bowling team?
There was back then, yeah. We did have a bowling alley here.
You said you went into the military right after graduation?
And you said you were security police? What does that mean?
What I did was, we actually secured all the nuclear weapons in priority aircraft. We did a lot of basic security.
You were in the Air Force, right? Your brother was also in the Air Force, too?
He was a firefighter and I was a police officer. We could never be the same.
Did you join the same time that he did?
No, I’m four years older than him so I got out when he went in.
Oh, okay. Why did you choose the Air Force?
It met the need that I wanted at the time.
So, you went to the military and then after you went back to the hardware store?
My dad was operating the hardware store and he couldn’t do it by himself, so he asked me if I would help him out. So, me and my brother both helped him out.
How did you finally get into the political arena?
I had a water bill issue and I came before council, and they pretty much just overlooked what I was there for and it upset me so I said, “Well I’m gonna start coming to more meetings,” and I thought, “I can do this job. Heck, I have a small family and they’re growing up here. I wanna be involved.”
So why city council first?
Just to learn the job. You can’t jump into the bigger offices unless you learn the small ones first.
Was this what you wanted to do when you grew up?
No, not at all. I mean I always got into an argument with my civics teacher back in school, but who didn’t? No, it wasn’t. My ultimate goal was to be a police officer when I was growing up. I hung out with the cops, we played basketball together, that’s what I wanted to do ultimately. Then I got my small family, started out with my daughter and she was born when I was in the military, and I found that the hours didn’t work. You know, the danger of it. I have a lot of respect for our police department. There’s a lot of danger out there and that just wasn’t my thing.
Tell me about your family a little bit.
I have three daughters. One granddaughter now. Wife of 32 years. Very happy. We’re happy with our town, we’re happy with our business, and we have no intention of leaving.
Tell me more about your daughters.
My oldest daughter is manager of the hardware store. She helps me out, I couldn’t do this job without her. She’s married, just got married last year. Great kid. I have a lot of respect for her. She’s learning a lot. I have a lot more to teach her. My middle daughter, she suffers from anxiety real bad so it’s hard for her to get out in the public. But right now, we’re working on that and she’s doing really good. She does help me at the store in the evening hours. She’s a big pet lover and just a great kid. And then my youngest, she’s married, and that’s where my granddaughter comes from. Of course, I had to wait for my youngest to get married to give me a grandkid. But she’s married to a police officer. They live in Rio Rancho, and that’s my family. Well, my wife of course, I met in Albuquerque. She’s from Texas originally. We met on February 29 and were married on May 11. We’ve been married for 32 years.
Oh wow, why so quick?
When you know, you know. Why waste time if you know?
Do you split your time between being mayor and the hardware store?
As best I can. It’s a juggle.
Tell me how that works.
It’s tough. You know, being a hardware store owner and the mayor of the town, you don’t make everybody happy. You can’t make everybody happy. So, it is hard to juggle both. You know, you have to put your business hat on and this is the way it is, and then you have to put the mayor’s hat on, and of course, I was sworn in to follow all the laws, and a lot of people don’t like that, but I do follow all the laws.
What would you say is your favorite part of both careers?
At the hardware store, working with people and solving problems. I love to be with the public. That probably helps me with my other job. But, solving problems is probably what I enjoy the most. If somebody comes in with a broken line and I get it fixed for them, and they leave without having to spend a lot of money, that meant I did my job for the day. Same with the city. It goes right back into the city. If I can build something or do something with the community that didn’t cost a lot of money, and it benefits somebody, then definitely, it’s worth it.
Tell me how it is with both you and your brother being big parts of the city.
It’s tough. Of course, my mayor’s hat, I take very, very, big pride in that hat. Of course, I’m not his direct supervisor, his supervisor is one of the counselors, my mayor pro tempore. But, if I see something wrong in that department, don’t think that he’s not the first to know about it. I probably am on him more than anybody else because I expect it.
I’m going to switch gears a little bit now, and give more so rapid fire, easier questions. So, what is your favorite movie?
Favorite movie is probably, I’m gonna say, “Caddyshack.”
Favorite musical artist?
Oh gosh, I love all music, that’s a tough question because you know, country, pop, I listen to your guys’ style of music, so, I was in choir when I was in school, so I like all genres. No favorite.
Favorite TV show?
Probably “The Big Bang Theory” or “Kings and Queens.”
Your favorite hobby?
Bowling is my favorite.
Your favorite sport or team?
Pittsburg Steelers, football.
Your favorite place to eat out?
Oh gosh, probably favorite place to eat out would be, that’s tough. I eat everywhere. Probably steak, so any of the steak places. Not a preference.
These are more so random questions, but I think they’re pretty cool questions. If you could go back to any period of time and live there, where would you go?
It was good times. It wasn’t all this stuff that’s going on now. These are tough times and I feel for kids these days. Back in the ’80s, everybody got along. And I’m talking locally, I’m not talking worldwide. There was no racism, we all got along. I knew every one of my classmates and respected them all and they respected me. They were good times.
What makes you laugh the most?
Just about everything. I’m a cheerful guy. Probably my granddaughter is my big laughter right now. Watching her grow up and make mistakes, it’s fun to watch.
How old is she?
She just turned 18 months.
Tell me a little bit about her.
She is the light of my life. I spoil the heck out of her. She’s so smart. She’s already walking, she’s putting sentences together at 18 months. We go play out in the yard. She’s just full of energy. She’s a great kid.
What is your go to karaoke song?
That’s back in the 80s again, I guess. I don’t know. You got me on that one.
If you were a superhero, what power would you have?
To see the future.
Because then you can’t make the mistakes that you’re about to make.
Tell me about your time in the military.
I still stay in touch with my buddies that were in the military. We probably didn’t like it back then as much because it was tough being in the military. You followed orders, you didn’t have freedom, but I wish I could go back to that because I had the best time of my life in the military. I met so many cool people and so many different cultures. I mean they’re from different parts of the United States that were totally different from our area. We still stay in touch today. I just went to one of my friends’ weddings. He just got married after 50 years. He’s still the same as it was back then, and old Texas boy. The friendship is family.
You’re the mayor. You’re the public entity. Tell me about being under public scrutiny all the time.
It’s tough. Running a business and being under public scrutiny is really tough because you get people that get mad at you and they don’t come shop. My livelihood is the hardware store, it’s not being a mayor, it’s the hardware store. So, whenever I have to come down on something or we develop something that people aren’t too happy about, I lose business, I lose my livelihood. So, it’s tough to juggle both hats.
Facebook is probably the worst for public officials out there. Everybody thinks that it’s great, but there’s so much false information that gets put up. Social media is the devil, I think. I enjoy it for my family, you get to talk to your kids and relatives, friends and so forth, but when it comes right down to it, false information on social media is horrible. I wish we had a better outlet to let people know really what’s going on because they won’t come to meetings. We have public hearings. We advertise plenty in advance, we got a brand-new board out here to put our stuff on. And then when it hits them, of course you’re the bad guys, but it’s like, they had every opportunity to come to these meetings and they don’t come. I would give anybody in my meetings a chance to talk. I don’t say, “No, nobody’s gonna talk. It’s gotta be quiet, we’re gonna decide your life.” Everybody has a chance to come to a meeting.
And yeah, tough decisions are made. Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t get the vote the way I want it to go. Sometimes council goes a different direction. But we rose our hands and we swore to defend all of those laws so that’s what I’m gonna do.
One last question. God forbid, but if you were to die tomorrow, what would you want your legacy to be and how would you want people to remember you?
That I was a community person. That I cared for our community. That I was a family man, very faithful to my wife and kids, and that I was a good person.