SOMERTON — Voters will choose between two candidates for mayor and fill 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 underway.
This is the second in a series of candidate profiles appearing in the Yuma Sun and Bajo El Sol. Anaya, 37, is a lifelong resident of Somerton who is a civil engineer for the city of Yuma. Miranda, 45, is a three-year resident of Somerton who is a substitute teacher in the Gadsden Elementary School District. Gonzalez, 57, has lived in Somerton for 45 years and is a teacher in the Somerton Elementary School District.
Why did you decide to run for the city council?
GERARDO ANAYA: Because I would like to continue serving the community. My only interest is in the residents of Somerton. I grew up here, and I'm going to remain here. I have my family here, my children, my friends. Every decision I've made, I made thinking about how it was going to affect those who live here.
CARLOS GONZALEZ: Because my goal is to work with the mayor and colleagues on the council in continuing to promote the prosperity of Somerton. I would like for the city to be the best for my family and all residents.
PATRICIA MIRANDA: Because I work for the community as a Girl Scout leader. Various people told me I could help to improve the community in the future as a council member.
What do you offer toward the work of the council and the progress of Somerton?
ANAYA: My experience in planning, design and city development as a civil engineer. To continue offering the creativity and leadership that I have brought to the council, and the vision of how projects should be done to really benefit residents.
GONZALEZ: I would spend the majority of my time fulfilling my responsibilities as a council member, looking into the problems and working on behalf of the citizens of Somerton. I know every square meter of this city, I spend a lot of time watching how it changes and thinking about what should be done for it in the future.
MIRANDA: To open up opportunities for Latina women, because there are a lot of women who don't think they can do it. I would show them how we can move forward and that we have open doors for participating in government.
What is the principal challenge or problem facing Somerton?
ANAYA: Keeping down city expenses but at the same time ensuring that city services create a good quality of life. Also increasing commerce, which provides the main revenue to the city (through sales tax).
GONZALEZ: That there is no money to do the things we would like to do. The infrastructure concerns me. I would like to see more sidewalks designed for handicapped people, more street repairs, better parks.
MIRANDA: We need more businesses that can provide jobs for youth. The youth are going outside the city, and we need those jobs here.
What would you propose to resolve that challenge?
ANAYA: Promote more programs like recycling and use of solar panels. The city already is setting an example with those programs, and we need to look what else can generate savings. Also, putting into effect economic development plans such as the Main Street Corridor plan, and promoting more incentives for businesses.
GONZALEZ: Look for grants to solve the lack of funds. What I'm concerned about is the infrastructure that serves elderly people and youth. There are ways to apply for loans, and they could be paid off by trying to raise revenues. Also, seeking donations for such areas as parks could be done.
MIRANDA: By attracting organizations that could offer opportunities for youth, and opening doors for the benefit of the youth of Somerton.
How would you reinforce or change the conduct of the council?
ANAYA: Being more accountable to the community in order to regain the people's trust in government. Continue informing them in a transparent manner about where (their tax dollars) go, to whom and why it was paid. I don't see the need to change but to reinforce the things that we are doing.
GONZALEZ: Everything seems to be to be very positive, I see a lot of participation. It's necessary to carefully study the issues on the agenda in order to arrive at a consensus that is best for the community. The council members should be spokespeople for what the people want.
MIRANDA: We need a change, that the community understands that (the incumbents) are the only ones who can run for the council, that the door is open to any person.
What is your message to voters?
ANAYA: I ask for their support, that they continue trusting in me as their representative, that I have demonstrated through my deeds that the community comes first for me.
GONZALEZ: That they take into account that in my 45 years in this city, I have come to know all its needs. I ask them for their trust. I don't like to make promises; I simply offer to work for them — for the elderly, the youth and for families in general.
MIRANDA: That we are listening to their voice. Without that voice, without their opinions and suggestions, the community cannot grow and move forward.