After an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2015, Loella Cruz sat back and watched from the sidelines, observing how Las Animas was being run.
That convinced her to run again for mayor.
“I understand the problems that we’re facing as a city and as a community; there's no spirit of community anymore,” Cruz said.
One of the biggest sentiments she said she's heard voiced by citizens during her canvassing of the city is the distrust people hold for the government.
“A lot of people are angry; they don’t feel like their voices are being heard by the government,” she said.
While sitting on the sideline for the past four years, Cruz said she saw the biggest needs of the community go unaddressed. And based off her door-to-door canvassing of the city, many other people share that view.
“I can tell you from speaking with the Hispanic community here that they are very upset with his (Mayor Jim Collins) progress,” she said.
One issue she brought up was the language of the ballot issue, which if approved will increase the marijuana and marijuana product sales tax. The issue states, “Shall the city of Las Animas taxes be increased by an estimated $150,000 in the first full fiscal year and by such amounts as are raised thereafter by imposing an additional sales tax of 5.75%, etc.?”
The portion of that issue that had her asking more questions was the thereafter part of the question. Her problem is that if this tax gets passed, the city will have a hard time getting away from it due to the chance of a tax that could be imposed after the first full fiscal year.
“Jim Collins and City Council had the right to present this to the public and tell them exactly what will happen,” she said.
She said that when a city puts out a question, it should offer more clarity for the item, instead of making it unclear and offering no explanation. She said that officials should have split the question into two sections: the first tax for the first fiscal year; and the additional sales tax that could be imposed later. Once split up, she said, she would’ have then presented each question to the public individually providing clarity if they had questions.
“I want to start a publication called the ‘Mayor's Corner’ and that way they know every step we’re taking,” she said.
Other issues she would like to address as mayor of Las Animas would change the mayoral system from a weak mayor system to a strong mayor system. Currently, she said, the city has a part-time mayor who only works about four hours a week.
By implementing a strong mayor system, she said the position of mayor would become a full-time job. It also would bring in three tiers of government with the first tier being the voters, second tier being the City Council, and third the mayor who acts as the executive branch with veto powers. This change, she said, would put more power into the citizens' and mayor's hands.
Another project Cruz said she would work on immediately if elected would be re-establishing the city's police department. She said all of the potential voters she spoken to have asked her to bring it back due to their displeasure with the attitude of the sheriff's deputies and bad experiences with the department as a whole.
She also spoke about limiting the number of marijuana dispensaries in the city. She wants to treat retail marijuana shops with caution moving forward because marijuana is still federally illegal.
Election day for 2019 will be Nov. 5.