Opinion: Who is better qualified to be mayor?

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I had to chuckle when I read Darien Fernandez’ letter in the January 18-24, 2018, issue of The Taos News, “Facts are, we need a change.” We will bring government into the 21st Century? He’ll hire a full-time economic development director?

For a citizen that has never owned a business in Taos, has been in “politics” for only two years, has no children here, has no network in place to accomplish any of the things he believes need changing, knows no one at the Capitol on which to call for help or to network with and knows few if any politicians outside Taos, it seems a stretch to think he can correct the “deficiencies” he believes we have in Taos and lead our town.

Darien, could you have negotiated with the people needed to get the $24 million airport safety and expansion project finally off the ground? Could you have managed to get $2 million for improvements to our Youth and Family Center? Could you have secured $4 million to invest in our town’s roads?

Could you have been instrumental in obtaining $14 million to rebuild the main road going through Taos? Do you have enough negotiating skills to negotiate with the world’s fastest-growing holiday website, Airbnb, which currently lists 800,000 properties worldwide, to establish the first agreement in New Mexico to pay lodgers taxes?

Could you have created family-friendly, substance-free events like the Fourth of July barbecue and concert, New Year’s Eve fireworks, barbecue and balloon launch or Movies On The Green? Do you know enough people to partner with to have made the University of New Mexico-Taos Health Sciences Center a reality?

The current town government under the leadership of Dan Barrone has done all those things and more. The airport project alone contributed thousands of dollars to our local economy. The local contractor that did the job contributed $6-7 million in wages to our local economy. Do you know the local contractor that did the work? The town’s gross receipts have increased every year for the past four years. Lodgers taxes have increased every year for the past four years. Oh, and the town of Taos just had a perfect audit, the first time in its history.

Do you know 20 major business owners in Taos well enough to drop in anytime and talk with them about their families, ask how their parents are or what sports their kids are in this year? Do you know anyone in the Taos Pueblo government? They are an important part of our community.

Dan Barrone has been a resident for 36 years and owner, with his wife Della, of Olguin’s Sawmill for 31 years, employs 12 full-time employees and has three children that graduated from Taos High School. Have you had any kids graduate from Taos High School? Dan and Della have been associated with the Taos Tiger Boosters Association for 17 years and generally as one of the board members. He purchases livestock each year from the kids at the County Fair. Yes, he knows kids.

Dan was a Taos County Commissioner for eight years and, of course, Taos mayor for the past four years. He knows acequias, their associations and the mayordomos. He knows the importance of water because he raises livestock for his family for food as well as greenhouses each year for his immediate family and other family members and friends. He’s been in the forest logging business for years and knows and appreciates the welfare of our forests and the wildlife that live there.

I worked for him for a dozen years and know that he is not only a good man, an honest and moral man, a great father and husband but selfless when it comes to helping others. A few months back he moved a very large sculpture piece for the Taos County Economic Development Corporation (TCEDC) on his own time with his own equipment. Someone from CAV(Communities Against Violence) across the road hollered over to help them. He did so. The list goes on and on of his generosity to our community and the hundreds in our community over the years that have been personally on the receiving end of his and his family’s generosity.

You may not like Dan Barrone personally, but you can’t knock what he and his crew at the town have done these past four years. I am not meaning to be disrespectful Darien, but the little I know of you, I just don’t see where you qualify to lead our town.

Dunnam is a businessman and 29-year resident of the Taos.

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