Candidates asked about economic development


ALAMOSA — Using a phrase from Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero’s reelection campaign signs, audience members at a city candidate forum Monday night asked the mayor and his opponent fellow City Councilor Ty Coleman how they have moved Alamosa forward and how they have personally supported economic development in Alamosa.

The question was one of several that candidates for mayor and city council answered during the forum, sponsored by the Valley Courier and Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce. However, this question was posed to only the mayoral candidates.

Lucero said moving Alamosa forward is something “we all believe in.”

He said during his term as mayor and prior to that as a city councilor he has done quite a bit to move Alamosa forward. For example, he said, he promoted smoke-free places in the city, something that has become statewide now.

“I didn’t do things on my own,” Lucero said. “I can’t do things on my own, but I try to motivate people to do things that will make sense not only to our community but to the people at large.”

One of the projects that is moving Alamosa forward now, he added, is the multipurpose pavilion under construction near the city recreation center.

It was a council decision to build the new ice rink/multipurpose pavilion, he said.

“Everything we do up here is done because the group feels it is in the best interest of the city,” he said.

The city has improved other recreational areas such as bike trails, he added.

He added that he hoped to be a catalyst for new ideas on moving Alamosa forward.

Councilor Coleman said when he first came to Alamosa he did not wait for the community to embrace him but he began to get involved.

He said he helped move Alamosa forward by working for a nonprofit organization that helped hard working people in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley get into affordable and safe housing. The housing construction also assisted local contractors and employees who worked on building the homes, he added.

The organization with whom he worked also operated relending programs, he said, which worked in the Valley’s rural communities to help businesses gain access to capital funds and expand their businesses and expand and retain jobs.

Coleman said he serves as chairman of the SLV Development Resources Group board, which also has a lending program for businesses.

Coleman said his personal efforts to move Alamosa forward have included a “shop locally” advertising campaign he has paid for himself to encourage people to shop in the area.

“I will continue to do things to help with economic development and encourage people to keep their money in our community,” he said.

River corridor
In a question posed to all candidates, attendees at the Monday forum asked what candidates would propose to do to make the Rio Grande corridor more of a public asset.

Coleman said he attended a meeting where some fantastic ideas where presented to improve the river corridor including a river walk, outdoor recreational activities such as kayaking and paddle boarding and a restaurant along the river. They wanted to make the river entrance grand with an arch and a big “A.”

“Big dreams can become reality,” he said.

Lucero said property acquisition is a challenge along the river levee, because not all of the levee is open to the public. The city is working with those who are working on a river-to-refuge project, he said, but it might take some time before the river and levee are more accessible for these projects.

David Broyles, candidate for Ward 2, said he would like to see some of the things he saw in San Antonio brought to the Rio Grande here. He said he would like to see more river-related improvements going south.

Councilor Kristina Daniel, current Ward 2 councilor, said she would like to see more trails and activities on the river like the Rio Frio event in the winter. The river can be the focal point for more activities for families, youth and all ages.

Michael Carson, candidate for Ward 4, said that while having a grand entrance to the city would be wonderful aesthetically, he was concerned about other parts of the city that were suffering and needed basic needs attended to.

Current Ward 4 Councilman Michael Stefano suggested starting small and growing bigger. He said he believed the trails that exist already are beautiful, and he enjoys going out on the river corridor between the bridge and Adams State with his family. He agreed with Carson that there were other needs in the city that needed attention.

Councilman Jan Vigil, unopposed in his reelection bid, said there are folks like those associated with the Rio Grande Farm Park who are working on improving the river corridor and have been hosting events such as Sundays on the River that have provided activities for people to do. He said he admired what Pueblo had done with its river walk and although Alamosa won’t be building a convention center along the river, there might be other projects the city and community could incorporate along the river.

More forum questions and responses will be featured in future Courier editions.