RUIDOSO – Local officials provided their hopes and aired their concerns to New Mexico’s second in command recently.
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez met with Ruidoso Mayor Ray Alborn, some Lincoln County commissioners, and other area officials before delivering the commencement address at Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso’s graduation ceremony last week.
“Obviously they’re concerned about the water situation,” Sanchez said. “That’s always a big issue – and some of the traditional and standard issues that they have. They’re interacting with different state agencies, always a concern.”
Sanchez said the state’s executive offices are committed to being a help and not a hindrance.
“We were very pleased that over the last two-and-one-half years they’re seeing a kind of a cultural change if you will in working with the state of New Mexico. That’s a plus.”
Sanchez said he was pleased to hear from local leaders that the pledge from him and Gov. Susana Martinez for a more responsive state government was ringing true.
“There was a good, positive feedback,” Sanchez said of the local discussions. “There’s always room for improvement. We’re going to continue to do that as we go forward.”
The immediate Ruidoso area, hit with a number of disasters from the July 2008 Hurricane Dolly flood to last summer’s Little Bear Fire, has seen responses and financial assistance from the federal and state levels. But in a number of cases, repairs had to be paid for up front and then reimbursed by the state and federal governments. That, at times, has had an impact on local governments.
“That’s a huge burden on their cash flow,” Sanchez said of the issue that was voiced to him locally. “So we’re going to be working closely with the Department of Homeland Security (and Emergency Management) here in New Mexico. And also to making sure that we’re working closely with our congressional delegation so that at the federal level that the response is timely as well. It can’t be tied up in bureaucracy because those cash flow crunches are affecting the ability for the municipalities to be able operate day-to-day. We hear it loud and clear. We’ll continue to make sure that we work and we try to be the oil if you will to help move those gears so that those reimbursement monies can get back to the communities.”
Looking forward, the lieutenant governor said the fire season is a huge worry.
“We’re hoping for the best but we’re preparing for the worst as far as this summer’s fire season,” Sanchez said. “Anything we can do to help coordinate and communicate and hear from our people, whether it be the mayor, county commission, local leaders, it’s important that we stay involved and we make ourselves accessible.”
Sanchez said whenever he gets out to the rural communities of New Mexico he tries to meet with as many people as possible.