Taos municipal elections are underway. Here are our recommendations for the mayoral and town council positions.
For mayor – Dan Barrone
While we think Darien Fernandez shows promise, we don’t think he’s yet proven his ability to guide the town, find funding and complete projects. We think he says all the right things about open government and diversifying the economy, but we don’t think his track record yet proves he can walk his talk.
We would like to see him finish out his term as a town councilor and run for a second four-year councilor term. In that time, we’d like to see him guide some projects through the municipal process and come back in four years with a deeper, broader resume. We think he could one day make a great mayor.
We are choosing Barrone because he’s proven his ability to help garner funding for major projects (road paving, expanded airport, Youth and Family Center renovation, public concerts). He’s an experienced businessman with a prowess for making money.
He’s also been involved with youth activities as a coach and fundraiser since long before he ran for election. He sought ways to build the music scene in Taos as an economic booster.
While we support Barrone for a second term as the most qualified candidate, we think if he wins he will need to commit to regaining trust from a big segment of Taoseños. We recommend the town hire a skilled public relations person who can advise Barrone and the town manager on how to interact better with the public on official business and be more transparent in their dealings while also better promoting the town’s successes.
For town councilors – Fritz Hahn and Pascualito Maestas
In Hahn, the town has an experienced and devoted public servant and an experienced businessman who started a successful company not based on tourism. Hahn has spent his spare time participating with youth groups and land organizations.
He’s committed to restoring the acequia system as another means to diversifying the Taos economy, and he’s done so not only with talk, but by getting into the ditches, shovel in hand to help. While some in town want to tar and feather him over his stands with the four-story hotel debacle, we believe Hahn’s a steady hand needed on the council. Like Barrone, we expect him to do better at fostering transparency and promoting public input.
Maestas is one of four political novices to run for town council. What he lacks in political experience, we believe he makes up for in his resume, background and new ideas. Maestas is a military veteran and an economist, who could have chosen to leave town and make a good living elsewhere.
Instead, he came back to his hometown to lead and to teach. He’s worked in the classroom as a coach and out in the field with troubled youth as part of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. We expect him to bring his economist’s eye to some of the town’s financial endeavors and expect him to serve as the council’s conscience. We know he’ll have a steep learning curve but believe he’ll rise to the challenge if elected.
We urge you to vote on Election Day March 6 or before the early voting deadline on March 2.
Only when all eligible voters participate do we have the best representation for our small-town democracy, no matter who wins.