District 4 Questions for the Candidates - Albuquerque Journal

District 4 Questions for the Candidates

Marlene Feuer.
Marlene Feuer.

Marlene Feuer

Age: (on date of election) 70

Years of residence in Rio Rancho: 43 years.

Occupation: Retired

Education: Brooklyn College, New York City, health and education major, did not complete degree.

Family: Married 51 years; two children and two in-law children; and four grandchildren.

Political/government experience: Was involved in incorporation of the city. Served on City of Rio Rancho’s first city council. Was involved in getting our own school district. Formed the Keep Rio Rancho Beautiful organization. Served on the Rio Rancho Planning and Zoning Commission as vice chair. Served on the latest City of Rio Rancho Charter Committee.

Major professional accomplishment: Worked up from part-time bookkeeper to area vice president for Waste Management of NM Inc. Instituted recycling in over 20 municipalities in the state of New Mexico, including the City of Rio Rancho, which now has a participation rate of 84 percent of households. Worked with the Municipal League to get environmental regulations implemented.

Major personal accomplishment: Raising two children, from the ages of 2 and 5, in the City of Rio Rancho. Both have become wonderful parents who are involved in their children’s lives and work to make this city even better in the future.

Have you ever been arrested for, or charged with, or convicted of drunken driving or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? No.

Ron Hensley.
Ron Hensley.

Ron Hensley

Age: (on date of election) 53

Years of residence in Rio Rancho: 25 years.

Occupation: Professional engineer.

Education: BS, civil engineering.

Family: Two sons, 15 and 17.

Political/government experience: Rio Rancho Utility Commission; Albuquerque Development Process Manual Review Committee.

Major professional accomplishment: I negotiated and prepared NPDES Compliance Plan that resulted in more than $1 million in fee and penalty savings for the state fairgrounds and completed two permits for EXPO New Mexico and the state for coverage by the EPA under the Clean Water Act.

Major personal accomplishment: The diversity of my life. With a wide variety of experiences, including sky diving, scuba diving and commercial balloon pilot, I have been educated by a diversity of experience in the majority of my personal and professional endeavors.

Have you ever been arrested for, or charged with, or convicted of drunken driving or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? My former wife had an issue with prescription medications. After my attempt at treatment intervention, a complaint was filed, which resulted in a felony arrest. The felony charge was later dismissed. My wife’s situation with prescription medications ended the marriage and led to her death in November.

Ryan Parra.
Ryan Parra.

Ryan Parra

Age: (on date of election) 25

Years of residence in Rio Rancho: 20 years.

Occupation: Full-time student.

Education: Graduated from Rio Rancho Public Schools. Pursuing BA in political science with hopes of also obtaining an associate’s degree in business administration and communication.

Family: Parents, Mark and Susan Parra; siblings, Juliana, Justin and Marcel.

Political/government experience: Member of the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education; leader and founder of Rio Rancho Alliance; involved with economic groups in the Sandoval/Bernalillo counties area.

Major professional accomplishment: Having the honor of being the youngest elected official on the board of education in Rio Rancho.

Major personal accomplishment: Being able to possibly be the youngest person to serve on the Rio Rancho City Council.

Have you ever been arrested for, or charged with, or convicted of drunken driving or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? No.

Questions for the candidates

1. What do you consider to be the top three issues in your district and how would you address them?

FEUER: Public safety: Residents want to feel safe. Support initiative and funding to support Rio Rancho police, fire and departments. Road maintenance: Create an untouchable fund in the city for the repair and maintenance of city streets. Dedicate a portion of the bonding, if approved by the voters, to the fund. Water: Water Treatment Plant 1 needs to be replaced. I would vote to replace it with a plant with an MBR filtration system.

HENSLEY: Water rates: I would seek to nominally reduce water rate and seek a dramatically lower sewer rate. I would propose a common-sense approach to capital spending. Streets: I would seek coordination of utility repairs and street improvements from a dedicated fund. A more direct allocation to improvements from road funds. Taxes: A road tax might be acceptable if it were offset by reductions in utilities.

PARRA: Communication: I would listen to the needs of my constituents and voice their concerns to city and business leaders. Infrastructure: To fix our roads, I would seek to increase the number of businesses in our district, providing additional income to repair our infrastructure. Education: I would work to see about providing classes/seminars to the public about city activities to allow the public to be better informed on city issues.

2. Please describe why you believe you are the best person running for your district seat. Specifically touch on how your abilities and experience stack up against your opponent(s).

FEUER: My experience with municipal government, professionally and through my volunteer work, in the city far outweighs that of either of my opponents. My business background in running a company that had over 300 employees with a fiduciary responsibility for that company also is far above the experience of my opponents. My proven ability to get things done at the state and local levels is far superior to that of my opponents.

HENSLEY: As a civil engineer, my career is focused on the planning and development of public works projects. The condition of the city’s infrastructure is of foremost conern, and I will bring my professional experience to the process to find an appropriate plan. One of my opponents has virtually no professional experience, and the other hasn’t been recently active. Therefore, I don’t have any knowledge of the experience of my opponents.

PARRA: As a member of the RRPS Board of Education, I have a consistent track record of listening to my constituents and working cohesively with others as proven by my actions on the school board. I have been able to inspire many changes in and outside our schools. I hope to bring these new ideas and insights to the city instead of reusing antiquated thoughts or personal biases.

3. The city has appropriated $200,000 in each of the last two years for the Sandoval Economic Alliance to bolster the region’s economic development efforts and attract employers to the area. Do you think that’s been a wise investment? Please be specific.

FEUER: I feel the investment had to be made as we cannot be without an organization that will promote economic-based businesses to locate in Rio Rancho. But I see a gap that is not being filled. We also need an organization that will work to attract retail businesses and services that will generate revenue for the city.

HENSLEY: I support the efforts of SEA that don’t duplicate other agencies, such as the Rio Rancho chamber. To attract employers, we need to provide their necessary resources. We need to focus more on the basis for the city’s historic growth success, which was to increase population densities for workforce and customer bases. We need to make living here as the best financial option.

PARRA: I support its efforts and ongoing projects. I believe this has been a very wise investment. As a city councilor, I would like to see it have a more active role in shaping our economy. I have attended its business classes and educational seminars. Besides trying to recruit businesses to the Sandoval County area, SEA offers educational classes on taxation, incentives and promotional services to new and growing businesses.

4. In context of the proposed $9 million bond issue for road improvements that will appear on the March 1 municipal election ballot, would you support an ongoing bonding cycle – every two years – to more proactively address our crumbling roads? If not, how you would address this issue, one of the city’s most pressing challenges?

FEUER: Yes, I support the bond issue for road improvements and would support a vote every two years on the renewal of the bond to address our roads that are in disrepair. This money can be used for matching state and federal funds and to support a dedicated and untouchable road fund. It will be up to the voters.

HENSLEY: The city must dedicate a recurring fund source to the transportation fund. Utility projects should be coordinated with roadway resurfacing. Resurfacing of local streets must be included in the proposals. To increase the desirability of our community, this is necessary to maintain home values and reduce vehicle maintenance costs. It demonstrates to our future residents and businesses our city has a responsible and proactive approach to maintaining roads.

PARRA: I believe to repair our infrastructure we must increase our economy and GRT income. I would listen to my constituents and work to bring in businesses they request in an effort to grow our economy. In doing so, this would allow us to start repairing our roads without the constant need to increase our citizens’ property taxes. I support this bond, but I wouldn’t support a two-year ongoing bond cycle.

5. It is no secret Santa Ana Star Center, which turns 10 years old this fall, requires millions in annual city subsidies to cover debt and operational costs. What are your thoughts on its current operation and what might be done to more quickly reach break-even for taxpayers?

FEUER: I would like to see Santa Ana Star Center broaden its vision for events that would appeal to the metropolitan area overall. We need to have events that will attract the millennials and our avid sports fans. Have we ever thought of selling it to a private entity?

HENSLEY: It’s hard to come up with solutions for previous mistakes. There have been improvements and additional improvement is possible, but we have to accept that it will be some time before we realize the benefit of the center.

PARRA: To quickly reach the break-even point for taxpayers, we must increase the amount of events held by sponsoring community activities such as parades, special events (Pork & Brew/Wine festivals) and conventions. Community events in partnership with local businesses would allow them to advertise, recruit and sell products. This would generate profit for the center and reduce city subsidies.

6. How do you intend to vote on the proposed charter amendment to increase the salary of the mayor and city councilor for those elected in 2018 and after?

FEUER: I served on the charter committee and offered a rationale for a raise but at a lower rate than is in the amendment. Given that statement, I do think remuneration for the future elected officials needs to be increased. The mayor is required to work full-time, and without a reasonable compensation, we cannot attract people to aspire to this job. Yes, I will vote for the pay increase.

HENSLEY: I’m against the amendment and against placing salary amounts in the charter. The council should make and be accountable for the decision. In addition, I don’t think the mean income of a household is the appropriate measure. If the median individual income was used, it would be less than half the rate.

PARRA: I would support the amendment even though I would not see an increase. The mayor’s and councilors’ jobs can be considered full-time positions. Our mayor makes around $30,000 per year, which is far lower than what his counterparts make in other municipalities. If we want to seek those who will devote themselves to the city and offer the courage, clarity, and the strategic vision we need, we must offer a comparable salary.

7. With regard to impact fees – especially in context of the Curb lawsuit and pending legal penalties the city faces – what do you think should be done to make Rio Rancho more competitive, while still securing necessary dollars to help offset the real costs of growth?

FEUER: Our impact fees need to be reduced so we can compete in the metropolitan area. The city needs to reevaluate the real costs of the development to the city to ensure the costs to developers and to the city are fair.

HENSLEY: Impact fees are necessary for replacing or improving the infrastructure that suffers due to increased use. Therefore, impact fees should have a basis in the actual cost incurred due to use or increased capacity requirements. We should establish a varied fee approach with designated development zones with decreased fees. The problems that have been created have been due to credits. Credits should have a sunset and be designated to development areas.

PARRA: I believe the city needs to lower the cost of the impact fees to become more competitive. One thing the city should do going forward is provide business owners with information on educational courses regarding taxation, subsidies and programs to help them fund the creation of their businesses. By providing this information to business leaders, this allows them to reduce their upfront costs, while still allowing the city to secure the necessary dollars.

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