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Commission Hopefuls Have Deep Roots in S. Valley

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Two people with deep roots in the South Valley are facing off to represent the area on the Bernalillo County Commission.

The campaign in District 2 pits incumbent Art De La Cruz vs. farmer and seamstress Zoe Economou, both Democrats. The winner of the primary election should have it easy in the general election because no Republicans filed to run.

The district covers neighborhoods in the Downtown core south of Central Avenue, the country club area, South Broadway, Kirtland Addition, Westgate Heights and the valley.

Both candidates know the area well.

De La Cruz, a retired county department head, has spent his whole life in the South Valley. In fact, he was born on the plot of land he lives on now.

Economou, meanwhile, was born in Albuquerque and has spent the last 30 years at the same South Valley address, where she grows garlic, artichoke, peppers and other food.

De La Cruz said the district needs the basics: water, sewer, flood control and jobs.

“In the South Valley, those citizens have only one form of government they can turn to for the most basic of needs,” he said. “It’s simple things: Can you guys fix my road? Can you fix this pothole?”

He said he’s worked hard to make progress addressing the area’s infrastructure needs over the last four years.

Economou said she wants to protect agriculture in the valley and focus on the re-use of water. The area, like other parts of the county, needs good land-use and growth plans that have “staying power” and aren’t ignored later, she said.

“Water is central to life in the valley,” she said.

Economou said she’d like to see a great Sheriff’s Department presence in the valley.

Both candidates have favorable things to say about the county administration’s new leadership team. Over the last couple of years, the county has hired a new manager, top attorney and other high-ranking executives.

Economou said the change has been good. County Manager Tom Zdunek is experienced and “doing an OK job,” she said.

De La Cruz said Zdunek is a “no-frills, straightforward” person who’s assembled a good team by hiring a mix of people new to county government and promoting from within.

As for each candidate’s experience, De La Cruz said his background as a retired director of the parks department is an asset.

“I do know how this government works,” De La Cruz said. “I’ve spent a career here dealing with budgets, dealing with employees, dealing with political issues.”

Economou said her strengths include a strong background in water and agriculture, given that she works as a farmer and serves on the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District board, an agency that works on conservation efforts. She said she’s a Democrat who will “act like a Democrat.”

Election Day is June 5. Early and absentee voting began Tuesday.
Meet the candidatesArt De La Cruz, Zoe Economou share views on the issues. C2See HOPEFULS on PAGE C2

ELECTION 2012
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal

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