Town Hall Meetings Create Opportunity for County Officials to Face Issues Head-On

Commission Chair Barney Trujillo called a series of town hall meetings in Velarde, Chimayo and Truchas in late April and early May as an effort to listen to community members issues concerning capital project needs and extend assistance in any way the County could afford. “I wanted to get out there and listen to what my constituents had to say about how the County could contribute more to their respective communities,” said Commissioner Trujillo. “It is important to let Rio Arriba citizens know that we care tremendously about their needs and wants and that we are here to service them as best we can.”

Topics in the Velarde meeting ranged from County road safety concerns, to the conceptualization of a new senior center and a new fire station. An overwhelming response taken from questionnaires handed out at the meeting indicated that citizens were very happy to attend and would like more meetings in their area. Chimayo topics included safety concerns about the current post office location and garbage disposal among other things. The Truchas meeting centered around effective use of the senior center and addressing County road issues. The County Commission and management assured citizens that each concern would be addressed further than the meeting if necessary and that any capital projects to be worked on would be subject to availability of County funds. 

As an effort to answer the many questions citizens had, Commissioner Trujillo brought along several County representatives, including fellow Commissioners, Alfredo Montoya of District 2 and Felipe Martinez of District 3; and representatives from Senator Tom Udall’s office, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan’s office and Senator Bingaman’s office. Panel guests also included directors from the County’s Recreation Department, Public Works Department, Manager’s Office and the North Central Solid Waste Authority (NCSWA). “Having the diverse panel available for questions was very important to me,” said Chairman Trujillo. “People need to know that we are available to them and that their concerns are being heard. I knew that every person on the panel would be able to address concerns and respond face-to-face, which I felt was a positive step forward for both the County and citizens alike.”

“Having these meetings was a great way for us to reach out to the community and to educate them on how the County manages their tax dollars and how those tax dollars can be put towards any community projects,” said County Manager Tomas Campos. “We work very hard to create a reality that we are open to transparency and to let citizens know that we will not shy away from their concerns and questions. I was very pleased to see the turnout for each meeting and hope that we can continue having meetings in the future.”   

-Erika Martinez, May 2012