Meet the Candidates

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Duana Draszkiewicz

Duana Draszkiewicz

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired real estate agent, former mental health care worker, former District 2 planning and zoning commissioner (2018–2020)

Education: Associate degree in Human Services, UNM, three years toward bachelor’s degree in University Studies, and licensed real estate agent, 12 years

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“I’ve lived here 42 years, witnessing both growth and neglect, and watching communities in this district become chronically under-served. I’m truly concerned about the county’s future prospects. I’m committed to representing all residents, listening to and understanding people’s concerns, and advocating for substantial improvements in how commissioners govern the county.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“Adequately increase funding and support for sheriff and fire departments; Provide critically needed mental-healthcare services and training; Protect our farmers, farmland and water resources; Obtain legislative funding for important infrastructure projects; Plan well-managed growth outside the greenbelt; Start meeting our under-served communities’ needs; Represent and support all our county residents.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“With COVID-19, we face huge, immediate financial challenges that change and intensify daily, including higher costs supporting vulnerable senior citizens; lost permit income; people can’t pay taxes; higher detention-center costs; and more! We don’t know the long-term effects. Commissioners need to change and prioritize the budget to best serve us all.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“In the current for-profit health care system, Valencia County cannot financially sustain a hospital. It’s a hard, frustrating, challenging situation. Commissioners must work with knowledgeable, professional, public health-care experts to explore reality-based questions: What are our health care needs? What type of facility is possible and sustainable? How can we get there from here?”

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Ralph R. Miramontes

Ralph R. Miramontes

Age: 51

Occupation: Works at 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

Education: High school diploma, UNM, seminars

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“I am a lifelong New Mexican. I have lived in Valencia County since I was 18 and lived in my district for over 20 years. I know the people and I see how the people live in this community and how much they cherish their property. I want to make sure that this community prospers and my constituents be protected.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“Begin the planning for the extension of the corridor project to Manzano Express Way. Improvement of Meadow Lake Road and developing a priority system and establishing a funding source, for road improvements in the district. Building of 24-hour emergency healthcare facilities, in our county.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“The biggest issue right now is the COVID-19 pandemic and evaluating the economic impact on the county’s revenue and budget, and boosting our locally owned small businesses.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“The nature of emergency care has changed greatly since the passage of the hospital bond issue and the type of health care that is needed and is available, needs to be reevaluated. The county commission, has been inconsistent in the past, with it’s dealing with health care providers and needs to be transparent in it’s dealings with the health care providers and make sure that the location of any facility is viable for the long term.”

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Tom W. Mraz (I)

Tom W. Mraz (I)

Age: 70

Occupation: Valencia County commissioner

Education: Certificates in chemical lab tech, 1976-1978; L H Bates voc- tech Tacoma, Wash; electronic tech control Data, 1981, LA, Calif.; HVAC Tech Quality College, 1990 Fresno, Calif.

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “DWI in 1980 in California.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“The reason I am running is to make fundamental change. We need positive, planned progress. The county needs to become aligned with the needs and wants of the public. The taxpayers pay our salaries and deserve respect and timely response to problems and issues.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“Illegal dumping needs to be controlled, abandoned buildings need to be removed, planned growth, diversified business, new infrastructure — a second bridge and new interchange, parks and recreation for quality of life, co-operation and planning with cities and county, water and soil conservation and address climate change before it is too late.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“Main street gridlock needs to be addressed. Nothing but delays and frustration result. We need the new interchange and second bridge over the river. The commission should work with the city, state and federal governments to make this happen as soon as possible.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“I would have the county take out a USDA community facility loan of 1-2 percent interest for 40 years. Build a hospital and lease it to a health care provider. Have them pay the lease and use the $27 million to maintain and operate.”

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Christopher D. Martinez

Christopher D. Martinez

Age: 60

Occupation: Commercial printer, self employed, (1994-present); volunteer baseball coach, Valencia High School (2006-present)

Education: Los Lunas High School, Class of 1977; United States Navy (1977-1981); TVI commercial printing (1981-1984); Darden/Curry Executive Leadership, University of Virginia (2007-2008)

Previous elected political offices: Los Lunas Board of Education (2007-2013), one year as board president

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“I was born and raised in the valley, have raised three sons here and now have grandchildren living here. My loyalty and investment in this community is long standing. I want to be part of wisely planning and managing our community resources for all of our futures.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“We need to complete all current projects. Address the safety issues we face as a rural community. Find good solutions that will create measured economic development while preserving our agricultural belt. Implement a road improvement plan for high traffic roads in the county, not just in the city proper.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“Growth. Valencia County has one of the highest growth rates in the state. It must be managed with intelligence and clarity as it will impact our infrastructure, our tax base, our land use and all aspects of our current way of life.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“We need to move forward on finding a working solution for the hospital. It has to be a successful model that can sustain itself while providing emergency services to the county.”

(Editor’s Note: Republican candidate Troy Dean Richardson did not return the News-Bulletin’s questionnaire.)

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LeRoy Baca

LeRoy Baca

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degree

Previous elected political offices: Two terms on the Belen Board of Education

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “Never.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“In eight years as a member of the planning and zoning committee, an advisory board to the commission, I have gained experience and knowledge to immediately begin working on important issues without having to learn the process. Lived the majority of my life in Tomé and retired as a math teacher from UNM-VC.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“The infrastructure is critical to the development of our county. Our roads, bridges and comprehensive planning and zoning areas are crucial in our fast-growing county. The hospital must to be built. It’s going to take a lot of planning. Protecting our farm lands and environment is crucial in maintaining our beautiful area.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“The infrastructure is critical, we must include our representatives in the Legislature to help us monetarily. We need grant writers to help with funding. We have issues with drugs, crime, need more code enforcers, water and environment protection. New businesses must help with the infrastructure not to burden taxpayers.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“We must comply with the will of the people. They voted to tax for a hospital. We must build it! Real leadership and effort will have to prevail to ensure that people get the fastest access for emergency situations; and located to serve the majority of the county residents.”

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Logan S. Jeffers

Logan S. Jeffers

Age: 24

Occupation: Health care worker; medical researcher

Education: Bachelor of Science in biology and minor in chemistry, University of New Mexico; Diploma, School of Dreams Academy

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“My passion is health care. Valencia County has great opportunity to improve physical and mental health care services to create a thriving county. I want to make sure our residents have full and convenient access to health care. Our county has a lot of potential, and we must build on that potential.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“1. Helping small businesses recover from the catastrophic economic impact of COVID-19, including identifying and supporting financial relief; 2. Securing a contract and constructing a hospital, because enough is enough; 3. Constructing the Jarales railroad overpass; 4. Providing personnel and better resources for law enforcement to address crime and safety.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating and has caused widespread distress on small businesses and residents. The consequences will last for many months, and our county must prepare now for the budgetary fallout. We must work with our state and federal officials to obtain financial support.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“As a medical professional, I’ve offered smart solutions to this complicated and very important regional issue. The county commission has failed for almost 15 years, and millions of dollars are sitting in the bank as locals struggle for health care. It’ll take active partnerships with local providers to get it done.”

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Joseph Bizzell

Joseph Bizzell

Age: 47

Occupation: Electrical contractor/farmer

Education: Belen High School, honorably discharged Navy veteran, 17 years active and Reserve, four-year apprenticeship, EL-1J, EE-98, GF-9

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No, I’ve never been arrested or convicted of a DWI or felony.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“Valencia County deserves to have county commissioners who will listen but also be an advocate to for their constituents’ concerns and requests. I’m a lifelong Valencia County resident and it’s important for the community to have representation that understands the needs of the public. I want to ensure my district’s concerns are addressed in a timely fashion.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“My vision would be to work in a partnership with county law enforcement and EMS personnel to ensure we are maintaining competitive salaries to keep our local forces staffed appropriately. My secondary focus would be the development of the 1-25 Interchange and East-West Corridor Project.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“Our county is growing rather quickly which indicates the absolute need for a hospital and also the ability to expand and repair roads to create accessibility and mobility throughout Valencia County.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“The hospital is long overdue. Progress not procrastination. It’s bothersome to know that as we don’t have a centralized hospital to stabilize a patient during critical care situations. I will be the voice of my constituents to cut the red tape and give the residents what they’ve been paying for.”

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David Tynan

David Tynan

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired engineering manager

Education: B.S., M.A.

Previous elected political offices: None

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “Never.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“The county is a highly desirable place to live. I want to preserve, protect and improve Valencia County’s rural and agricultural lifestyle. As commissioner, my pragmatic and analytical management skills developed as a teacher and manager of projects, budgets, programs and people will benefit Valencia County with the platform outlined below.”

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“VC medical facility; planning and zoning, actualizing a master plan including water use and transportation; economic development, business incubator; parks and recreational facilities; social services; utilities, internet, solid waste, sewer and water; law enforcement, equipment and personnel; fire protection, volunteer and professional; animal control, spay neuter clinic, no kill shelter; power generation, wind and solar.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“Lack of revenue. (COVID-19 underscores this issue.) Here are three ways to address this: Promote “Buy Local” and attract new businesses thereby increasing tax base; Seek reductions in operational costs; Collect delinquent property taxes, consolidate abandoned properties and sell to the benefit of VC.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“A project of this size, $26M, and impact must be data driven with current and relevant information before going forward. I will vote to wait, analyzing data in an updated feasibility study for the needs of VC before going forward. The original study is dated 2011 and much has changed.”

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Jhonathan Aragon (I)

Jhonathan 

Aragon (I)

Age: 32

Occupation: Chairman of Valencia County Commission and veterinary assistant

Education: Associate of General Science-UNM

Previous elected political offices: Valencia County Commissioner District V 2013-present.

Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI or a felony in New Mexico or in another state? “No.”

1. Why are you running to become the next county commissioner?

“I love our community. I am running to provide our community proven leadership. As county commissioner, I have increased the county’s surplus funds from $80,000 to $8,000,0000, while simultaneously increasing the income and medical contributions to our employees, improved Conejo operations, and made available trash collection to all county residents.”

Voting 2020

2. What projects do you want the county to accomplish in the next five years?

“We need to expand access to health care in our community. Securing a provider to construct and operate a hospital is my highest priority. We also need to update our comprehensive plan, which will guide the county’s goals, aspirations and policies for further development in the county.”

3. What is the biggest issue facing the county right now, and how can the commission play a part in addressing it?

“The biggest issue facing the county is crime. In addition to inhibiting economic growth, crime takes a disastrous toll on our youth, and erodes our fundamental and basic security in our home and our belongings. As commissioner, I will continue to consistently support our sheriffs’ requests for additional deputies.”

4. Taxpayers and residents are frustrated about the lack of progress on the hospital project. What would you do to ensure a hospital is built in Valencia County?

“I share our community’s frustration that years of litigation and selfishness have resulted in unnecessary expense and delay in expanding health care to our community. Under my leadership, the county is working closely with UNM-H to determine and implement the necessary steps to accelerate the development of a hospital.”

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