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Springer High School students host a candidate forum

SPRINGER — The Springer High School Civics class, taught by  Steve Montoya, was held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 6 pm at the high school’s Sim Brown Gym.  The event was moderated by the students under Montoya’s direction.
Alicia Arias opened the forum with an introduction and Karissa Crosswhite welcomed and thanked the candidates for their participation.  All candidates invited were in attendance: Trustee/council candidates: local resident William Jump,  business owner Rodney Hood, school board member Joe Apodoca, current trustee/business owner Timm Trujillo, local resident Louella Smith, high school teacher/current trustee Rebecca Ramirez, and current mayor Fernando Garcia; and Mayoral candidate, Boe Lopez, who is the town’s current mayor pro tem.
After Bryan Romero led the Pledge of Allegiance, Crosswhite explained the hour long forum’s rules: while no questions or comments will be allowed from the audience, and that each candidate was allowed 1½ minutes to answer questions.
The first question,  asked by student Hannah Burton, was,” What percentage of the 2018 budget will be spent on capital projects, name those projects, and the specific dollar amount allotted to each project?”
Candidates Jump, Hood, Apodoca and Smith pledged to get more information to better understand the percentages.  Two candidates, Ramirez and Lopez, answered and gave a number for those percentages, Trujillo and Garcia gave an explanation but no percentages.
Student Bryan Romero asked, “For the last quarter of a century, debris from asphalt has been sitting on the banks of our local river which, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), is illegal.  To existing council members: What is it going to take for the town council to act on the illegally dumped asphalt that has most likely seeped into our water table? To the candidates not yet serving: What steps are you going to take to make sure that the illegally dumped asphalt is removed from our river banks?
All candidates stated they would have to check with the EPA and gather more information.   Lopez, Garcia and Trujillo, gave suggestions on where to deposit the asphalt.   Lopez also said the EPA hasn’t contacted the town hall on any issue of contamination, and stated he was unaware of this situation.
The rest of the forum proceeded similarly with remaining questions asked as follows:
•  Our school system is a vital part of our community.  What level of involvement in our school system have you had as a member of the community?  What role as a council member would you play for our school system, and what kind of time commitment can we expect from you in our schools as a town council member?
•  What advances have been made on the electrical power grid and the water/sewer system? Current council members: when can the citizens expect these projects to be completed? For those not currently in office: how would you make sure these projects get completed in an expedited manner?
•  As a small isolated community, the resources avalible for the community are limited. What activities do you envision can be created by the town for our children and our youth that can be done through the year?
•  What do you perceive to be your greatest weakness, and what steps have you made to address this weakness?
•  What contributions have you made to the town of Springer either as a council member or as a member of the community?
The forum came to an end and the students were praised highly by all in attendance.  The candidates stayed to speak to their public and pose for a few pictures with the students.
This event was an opportunity for students to see first hand how politics works at the grassroots level, and to give Springer residents a chance to hear the younger generation’s ideas and motivation on how to make their community and lives better.
The community of Springer should be very proud of these bright, intelligent individuals and their teacher.
The elections will be over, with two trustees and a mayor elected by the time this article is published.  However, the purpose of this article is to encourage our bright young students in our schools, by showcasing their dedication, efforts and energy.

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