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2020 general election: Sandoval County Commission District 4 candidates

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Early voting for the 2020 general election is underway through Oct. 31, and Election Day is Nov. 3. For a list of polling places, visit sandovalcountynm.gov and click on “2020 Election Information” under “Quick Links.”

The Observer asked candidates running for Sandoval County offices and state legislative seats representing southern Sandoval County to answer a list of questions. Answers were not edited, and were held to a strict word limit.

Democrat Alexandria Piland and Republican incumbent David Heil are running for the District 4 Sandoval County Commission seat. Their responses follow.

David J. Heil

 David J. Heil, Republican

Community of residence: Rio Rancho

Education: BSBA, Transportation Major; Computer Systems Training

Professional and political experience: 40 + years experience managing corporate, minority women and veteran owned businesses, 30+ years community volunteer and 4 years County Commissioner. For details see DaveHeilforSandoval.com

Have you ever been charged with a felony or DWI? No

1. What should the county do to support mental health care?

The County’s Clinical Supervisor meets regularly with the Behavior Health Coalition on progress at SRMC’s BH Clinic opened last year. Increased Telehealth participation rates, the preferred Health Council approach, are reported. SRMC BH and Substance Abuse funded by the Health Service mill levy works with NAMI to serve those with mental illnesses. We negotiated with SRMC regarding BH and SA to assure funding for our most vulnerable BH and SA population, in the Detention Center, with the objective of reducing recidivism.

2. What should the county’s role be in helping residents and businesses recover from the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic?

We shared the CARES funding program with our Economic Development Department’s list of small businesses, quickly. The ED Department is available to work with businesses to help them apply for payroll, rent/mortgage, insurance, utilities, marketing, temporary structures, space reconfiguration, or PPEs.

I proposed the County’s Sandoval Economic Alliance agreement include implementation of programs including Economic Gardening and Veriready Development sites to help local businesses grow and to identify commercial properties with infrastructure that are ready for more jobs from new businesses that want to relocate here.

3. What should be done about the issues of racism and racial equality in Sandoval County?

County Manager Dianne Maes prioritized implementation of a professional process for interviewing and hiring to comply with inclusion of persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin. County stats reflect policy success with Ethnicity distribution for leadership/professional positions of 59% Hispanic, 39% White, 2% Black.

Sheriff deputies are trained yearly on interaction with the mentally ill, hate crimes and Racial Profiling policies to assure fair treatment of all residents. We can be proud of our statistics and our training programs.

What we as community leaders can do is encourage treating each other with respect.

4. What should be the top budgetary priorities for the county going forward?

Top budget priorities include Public Safety to assure a safe and stable community where people and businesses want to locate; the completion of the Detention Center reconstruction and accreditation to improve public, staff and inmate safety and mitigate financial liability; and Economic Development to continue helping create new jobs and fund community services.

5. What are the greatest challenges facing your district and how would you address them?

Challenges of District 4 include pockets of poverty, areas of outstanding growth, and stable neighborhoods.

As a home visitor for a church group that helps those in need with expenses, I’ve found that some in poverty are there because of unfortunate life circumstances and will continue to need government and faith based resources. Most people, however, will benefit from the strong economy that we’ve helped create, that will provide more jobs in retail, construction and manufacturing.

The Covid shut down has highlighted the need for internet access for schools and businesses. It’s available to people who can afford it in densely populated areas but less available in sparsely populated areas. RRPS provides laptops and WiFi hotspots and Sparklight is assisting students with internet access. I’ve been meeting with Congresspersons, County workgroups, and technology companies about broadband over recent years. The cost of rural fiber is expensive. Private wireless providers are discounting services, expanding cell service and hot spots but say broadband improvements will cost over $25 million and a State plan with funding options is needed. There are wireless satellite technologies that could bring Internet connectivity to rural communities that are already being tested.

Alexandria Piland

 Alexandria Piland, Democrat

Community of residence: Rio Rancho

Education: AAS Paralegal Studies, B.A. English, Master’s Coursework in Rhetoric & Writing Studies

Professional and political experience: I am a teacher at CNM Community College (25 years). I was the Executive Vice President of CNM Employees Union and the Chair for the Committee on Political Education Chair. I am President of the Sandoval County Federation of Democratic Women and a graduate of Emerge New Mexico. I have volunteered for multiple election cycles with the Democratic Party. Prior to moving to New Mexico, I worked for several different attorneys’ offices, volunteered to deliver food to people with the AIDS virus, and rescued cats and dogs.

Have you ever been charged with a felony or DWI? No.

How can people reach you if they have questions? alexandriapiland@gmail.com and 505-226-2446.

1. What should the county do to support mental health care?

Sandoval County should continue using the Hospital Tax money for behavioral health services at both SRMC and the County Detention Center and work to extend outreach into the community and schools.

2. What should the county’s role be in helping residents and businesses recover from the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic?

The county needs to help make contacts with resources like NMDOH, NMDOL, school districts and meal assistance. There also needs to be a resource for people who have questions about the law for people who are at-risk for losing their homes. We need to ensure that the county economic development office helps business owners with completing required paperwork, and help obtain outside funding like grants, loans and stipends.

3. What should be done about the issues of racism and racial equality in Sandoval County?

The county needs to include all residents in discussions of policy changes and major ordinances. We have a diverse population that includes Native Americans, African Americans, LatinX of many different origin and many others of European, Asian, and other origins. We should also create a citizens’ advisory board to help with issues of racism and racial equality.

4. What should be the top budgetary priorities for the county going forward?

Continuing to provide essential services such as Fire and EMS, and law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance, and community services that target the disadvantaged residents are the top priorities. Additionally, we need to support the mental health unit at SRMC, county health, and the SCDC.

5. What are the greatest challenges facing your district and how would you address them?

Providing jobs that pay a livable wage is paramount. People who work for a living, whether it is for themselves or for someone else, should earn a living. We need to prioritize our existing small businesses and assist them in their growth and expansion. The county should aggressively pursue state and federal resources to help our development. Another challenge is protecting our natural resources, including protecting clean water, by enacting sensible regulations governing mineral extraction in the county.

 

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