Susan Payne candidate for Mayor of Alamogordo has politely responded to our request to answer 26 questions as compiled from polling of our readers.
The race is down to two candidates as the 3rd withdrew thus the silence in response. Early voting begins tomorrow, in a race that has had no public forums other than a few meet and greets, no published position papers and no candidate websites to see a detailed plan of what a Sikes or Payne administration would mean to the city of Alamogordo and it’s citizens.
What Alamogordo is in for, is a cat fight between Nadia Sikes and Susan Payne, in what one hopes will remain a non-partisan and polite race. Will the newcomers purchasing homes and investing into Alamogordo make a difference in this race or will the machine that some say runs Alamogordo select the candidate due to voter complacency?
The next 30 days will tell the tale.
Below are the 26 questions submitted to the candidates from AlamogordoTownNews.com and Susan Payne’s responses…
1. Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.
Susan Payne Response: “Six years as a city commissioner, 2 years on the community development advisory board. Over 30 years of corporate and small business experience including an accountant for Mazda Motor of America Corporate Headquarters, Bramalea Corporation, United Way of Otero County and more recently for the past 12 years I have built a successful non-profit whose mission is to assist those less fortunate and take people from dependence to independence.
I hold a BS in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management. I have been recognized with several awards including the Community Hero Award given by the NM Coalition to End Domestic Violence, The “Pursuing Excellence” award given by Love INC National and the Community Service Award given by ITA International.
Although often asked, I do not sit on allot of boards as I take it very seriously and I just don’t believe I can be effective and still balance my personal time. I also think that
because I operate a non profit it would inappropriate to focus too much energy on raising money for other non-profits although there are a couple that my husband and I personally support.”
2. AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed...
Susan Payne Response: “The city does not specifically have any ordinances that would fall into either of these categories. HOWEVER I was heavily involved in reworking our LEDA ordinance which focuses on job creation. In addition, I sit on the Otero County Economic Development Board and focus allot of time on Job and business creation.”
3. AlamogordoTownNews.com What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off?
Susan Payne Response: “When I was first elected to office, the police union had been working without a contract for 18 months. I’m honored to have really pushed for reasonable negotiations as part of my first few months in office and extremely proud that we were able to find resolution after all those months. Allot of what I’ve pushed for over my years on the commission is really “cleaning up” and clarifying many outdated ordinances.”
4. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why are you running for office?
Susan Payne Response: “Before I ran for office I would spend each commission meeting literally watch commissioners argue with each other. Often the meetings would go on until midnight. I never believed that it was the way things should be done as it showed absolutely no decorum. Since my time on the commission things have changed drastically and, while we don’t always agree, we also don’t allow that to get in the way of doing what is best for our community. I believe I have allot to offer and running for Mayor will simply give me greater opportunity to do what I’ve been doing in terms of improving our city. I am passionate about economic growth and believe Alamogordo has allot of potential. I have allot of support and I can only attribute that to my work so far on the commission.”
5. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is your vision for the office you seek?
Susan Payne Response: “My vision is to see our city grow while still maintaining that home town feel that most citizens enjoy. The Mayor is only one vote and part of the commission as a whole. Our current Mayor was a large and visible presence before the pandemic and really helped to change the tone of city hall. I would like to continue that as I work with administration and the citizens to be a leader that our community can count on to represent our city in a positive way. Alamogordo really is the total package and as Mayor I want to ensure that the rest of the state recognizes that.”
6. AlamogordoTownNews.com -When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?
Susan Payne Response: “I will demonstrate the economic growth that we will have undertaken. I will be able to show a growing work force and I will also show off the arts and cultural district that I think we all have an interest in seeing enhanced.”
7. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? Specifically what shops and when?
Susan Payne Response: “I am not a big shopper however I believe it was about a month or so ago. I purchased a gift certificate from Victoria’s (one of my favorite downtown stores) and spent about 45 minutes speaking with Alice and her employees. I enjoy our downtown businesses and try to shop there first as the need arises.”
8. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?
Susan Payne Response: “I try to stay involved in Alamogordo Main Street and actually attended a meeting last week with state and local leadership of that organization. Before the pandemic, Mainstreet and the downtown merchants association were really beginning to thrive. There was the evening art walk once a month and I, along with MANY citizens was a regular attender. I see these types of events as truly the backbone of our community. It is a great way to not just help our merchants but to bring our community together.”
9. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program?
Susan Payne Response: “I attend them all the time. My son-in-law is a football coach (Go Tigers!) and our family loves going to support our team. In addition, my grand daughter runs track and is a varsity basketball player and we are proud and devoted grandparents. Finally, Love INC (the non profit I run) is a financial sponsor of girls basketball.”
10. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?
Susan Payne Response: “I have been a judge for several spelling bees, again, our grand daughter is a National Honor Society and Golden Scholar inductee, I attend high school graduations and have also been involved with Junior Leadership Otero. This year my grandson is involved with the Chaparral Choir so I’m sure I will be attending concerts and finally I’m a huge supporter of STEM.”
11. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center?
Susan Payne Response: “By participating I’m going to guess you mean attended? I attend most all of the Alamogordo Music theatre productions as I really enjoy musicals of any kind. I really wanted to go to the last summer series but unfortunately due to illness I missed that one. I’m looking forward to the November production of “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.”
12. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?
Susan Payne Response: “I’ve devoted my entire time in office to both. Alamogordo does not lack jobs but we do lack a workforce. One of my grandkids is actually a local entrepreneur and we are incredibly proud of how hard she has worked and how successful her business has been in such a short time. My high school grandchild is actually a baker and bakes beautiful cakes. My husband and I are looking at what we can do to assist her with a facility that perhaps she can rent space in when she is baking as she gets numerous requests for her cakes. Finally, after 27 years of working for a local business in town, my husband just retired and now is a small business owner himself.”
13. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?
Susan Payne Response: “I would say half of the calls I receive from constituents are for code enforcement issues. This is something I take seriously as I recognize that our citizens do not want to look at unsightly properties. Having said that, I also recognize the rights of our property owners so always feel it is better to try to work with them to come to some kind of resolution. Perhaps the most notable property that the commission was finally able to demolish was the Sahara Apartments. Tinsley trailer park is finally getting cleaned up. There is a property in my district which ahs literally been a health hazard, that is finally being demolished after many years and much effort. There was a business on White Sands that I was able to get cleaned up. Many of the properties in my district we have seen drastic improvements on. I have participated in many “Keep Alamogordo Beautiful events” including painting and cleaning up balloon park.”
14. AlamogordoTownNews.com -Where do you stand on the Recall of Couy Griffin and why?
Susan Payne Response: “It would highly inappropriate and incredibly unprofessional of me to comment on this issue as Couy is a fellow county commissioner and we will continue to have many occasions where we possibly have to work together. Also, it has nothing to do with my ability to be Mayor.”
15. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Where do you stand on the exposed broken sewer line issues and amending the law so the city would be responsible from the sidewalk to the street?
Susan Payne Response: “This is an ordinance that has been enacted since the 90s. After much research I see no way to change this without doubling water and sewer rates which would cause an undue burden on our low income residence including those living in public housing. I’m open to viable suggestions.”
16. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?
Susan Payne Response: “I am a member of the board of Otero County Economic Development, the chamber of commerce and I am the vice chair of Maingate United and as such I work diligently to create ways to attract new business to Alamogordo.”
17. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.
Susan Payne Response: “I support all of our businesses and would never pick just 5″
18. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?
Susan Payne Response: “Absolutely. This is something Alamogordo Main Street is currently working on. I attended their latest meeting and listened to their ideas and I’m very excited to see their vision come to fruition.”
19. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community?
Susan Payne Response: “Hmmm??? I haven’t specifically done outreach in this arena however, working in the field that I do, I have many occasions to work with many diverse groups of individuals. As Mayor I will continue to work with everyone for the betterment of our community.”
20. AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you funding your campaign?
Susan Payne Response: “My campaign is being funded by friends and supporters.”
21. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?
Susan Payne Response: “We already have one, so yes, I suppose, I would, since I have nothing to hide.”
22. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue in mid-October?
Susan Payne Response: “Possibly, if my schedule permits.”
23. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?
Susan Payne Response: “This question is full of presumptions. I assure you I don’t really get a paycheck for this position but I am grateful for the medical and dental insurance that my paycheck goes toward even if its not enough to cover all of it.”
24. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support moving the farmers market to New York Avenue and amending city ordinances to allow weekly events and street fairs?
Susan Payne Response: Of course. At one time it was downtown however a couple of business owners were not happy about this and because of the way the ordinance was written, the event was moved to Alameda Park. One of those business owners has since closed shop but one is still there. I am personally not opposed to bringing this back before commission and actually talked about that at the Mainstreet meeting last week.”
25. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?
Susan Payne Response: “I will continue to support Alamogordo Mainstreet and their efforts including the funding that they currently receive for these types of projects. Simply put, the city already has begun this process and I support efforts made to that end.”
26. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?
Susan Payne Response: “There are lots of things about our community that excite me. The multitude of events and activities. Driving around and seeing our young people playing in our parks and green spaces. Friday night football games at tiger stadium. Early morning listening to the Tiger band practice. Enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and inevitably running into several other people I know. Working with other agencies and non-profits to assist those in need. Seeing and hearing the excitement when new businesses come to town. Maintaining our small town feel while seeing economic growth. Showing our unwavering support and pride for all things military, first responder and law enforcement related. Seeing our town come together for various parades and special events.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com thanks candidate and sitting Commissioner Susan Payne for taking the time to process the questions, with well thought out and honest answers.
Running for political office is never easy and one’s life is put under a microscope of which some wonder, is it worth it? It takes a lot of ego and self confidence to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the voting public, social media and the press.
Any candidate for office is to be commended, for opening themselves up to this scrutiny while running for office, and years after, as the public spotlight always follows those who were once public.
With any set of questions, responses bring more questions for specifics in details, examples of progress and a need for more information. We hope the voters engage in dialog and follow-up with both candidates and actually get out become active and vote.
We hope this race, and whoever the winner of the race is, stays committed to the principles of non-partisan behaviors, shows compassion and empathy, is timely and accepts the role as their primary focus to truly represent the broad diversity of Alamogordo with tact and diplomacy and always puts their constituents above their personal interest or agenda.