Porchas, Magana battle in Somerton mayoral race
SOMERTON — Voters will choose among candidates for mayor and three city council seats in Somerton's March 12 primary election.
Candidates for mayor are the incumbent, Martin Porchas, and Arturo Magana, Somerton's current vice mayor. Running for the three four-year council terms are incumbents Miguel Villalpando and Gerardo Anaya, and challengers Carlos Gonzalez, Francisco Vazquez, Arturo Vargas and Patricia Miranda.
Early voting for the primary is under way.
In the first of a series of articles, Bajo El Sol and the Yuma Sun are profiling the mayoral candidates. Magana, 55, is director of operations for Chicanos Por La Causa and has lived in Somerton since 1968. Porchas, 43, is an agricultural research technician for the University of Arizona and has lived in the city since 1971.
Why did you decide to run for mayor?
ARTURO MAGANA: I was mayor before, and I am vice mayor now, so it's a natural step to run again for mayor. Also (I am running) because I can bring something a little different to the office than what the current mayor has brought. I would take more into account the (concerns of) different groups in the community and the differing opinions of council members.
MARTIN PORCHAS: (I am running) because we have been working well together on the council. We are on the right path. I want to continue to offer that good work for the people of Somerton.
What qualities do you believe qualify you for the post?
MAGANA: I am a person with an open mind. I don't come to the council meeting with any resistance toward accepting different opinions. I would perform capably (as mayor), given the knowledge I have gained from my job and the fact that I held the office before. I would carry out the functions of mayor in a different way, by listening to the community, to the employees of the city and to my colleagues on the council.
PORCHAS: I have represented the city very well, I have defended it. I take part on all the committees where there is the possibility of getting funds (for the city), as well as on the majority of boards that are related to the city. Without representation, those funds would not come to the city. My opponent serves on none of those.
What has been your greatest satisfaction as an elected official?
MAGANA: To have contributed as a council member in making Somerton a progressive city, with a stable level of growth. We are doing well in providing services and we can continue growing. Also (my greatest satisfaction) has been seeing the city's revenues improve to allow it to continue being self-sufficient.
PORCHAS: To have started programs that have proved to be good ones, such as recycling, solar panels (on city buildings) and completion of the expansion of the sewer treatment plant. Also keeping down the costs of services to residents. We don't foresee them having to increase for a long time — at least not trash and sewer, since revenues are good in those areas.
And what is the cause of your biggest dissatisfaction?
MAGANA: Some of the programs that have been implemented have cost us more that was projected, and no benefit has been shown. An example is the recycling program. I didn't see any indication that it was something the community was asking for. It was presented as a pilot program and the next month it was being proposed as something definite. There was no analysis done to prove that it would lead to a savings. Another example is the animal control, which went from costing $46,000 a year previously to costing almost $100,000 a year now. And yet I continue seeing dogs in the street.
PORCHAS: That there hasn't been enough money to improve the streets in the city, and the time it has taken to complete some (street) projects. There are a lot of streets in bad condition, and we have made progress in improving them. But we have to look where we can find more funds to continue.
What is the main challenge for Somerton?
MAGANA: How to remain self-sufficient, how to increase revenues through the sales tax. Right now, they allow us a little flexibility but the challenge continues to be improving them. Another challenge is implementing the Main Street project, which will help to make us more attractive for investment and for attracting tourists.
PORCHAS: To bring in more business. The city sustains itself on the sales tax. If I am re-elected, I will work hard to attract winter visitors to Somerton. The Main Street corridor project is part of that.
What message do you have for voters?
MAGANA: That I have the knowledge and the experience for the office. I know how the council functions and I know how an organization is run. I have been a Somerton resident for many years and I want to offer my experience, knowledge and commitment to the well-being of the city.
PORCHAS: That they go out and vote, that they look at what I have been doing and what I want to continue doing. The results can be seen in the community. I am going to continue working 110 percent, defending the interests of the city and bringing more projects to Somerton.