City of Marfa candidate questionnaires

Candidates for City Council in Marfa weigh in ahead of early voting's start on April 19.

City of Marfa
City of Marfa residents will be voting to elect a mayor and two council members this election season. Early voting begins April 19, leading up to Election Day on May 1, and voting takes place at Marfa City Hall. Incumbent Mayor Manny Baeza is running unopposed and did not submit a questionnaire. In the running for two seats on Marfa City Council are the two incumbents, Raul Lara and Irma Salgado, and Marfa resident Stephen Boelter. Here, the candidates share a bit about themselves and talk about pressing issues the city is facing.

Raul Lara

  1. Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I am Raul Lara. I was born in Alpine, Texas, in 1966 and raised in Marfa, Texas. I am currently employed by WTG Fuels/Uncle’s convenience stores as a supervisor. I am the son of Irma Lara and the late Juan Lara Sr. of Marfa, Texas. I have three older brothers: John Lara, Eddie Lara and Robert Lara, who all reside in Marfa, Texas.

  1. Affordable housing has long been an issue in Marfa, and some critics say the proliferation of vacation rentals has made the shortage worse. How can Marfa improve housing availability for residents without jeopardizing the city’s tourist economy?

Affordable housing is one of the most difficult issues facing our council and town, because until we get the housing market under control and property values down, we will never see a fair value market in Marfa, Texas.

  1. Many roads in Marfa are in disrepair. What steps can council take to improve city infrastructure?

Marfa roads are in disrepair. The council bought a DuraPatcher last year to fill potholes. You ask why we haven’t filled these potholes faster – I was told we’re short handed, we don’t have the manpower or there’s other priorities. Marfa citizens, I am only one council member. I am trying my best to uphold my duties and responsibilities which you elected me to do two years ago.

  1. Budget season is starting this summer. What do you think Marfa’s spending priorities should be?

It has been a very difficult year with COVID-19 and tourism down. My priorities are our community library, our senior citizen program (meals on wheels) and visitor’s center HOT funds that come from hotel taxes to fund our community arts, but rest assured I will not vote for a tax increase for our taxpayers. This has been a very difficult year with citizens losing their jobs due to COVID-19.

I am asking for another two years in office, and I hope that I have represented you well. I have done my best to keep our community safe and updated with COVID-19 and current events on social media (Facebook). Thank you, Marfa, Texas.

Irma Salgado

  1. Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

My name is Irma Gonzalez Salgado, I am married to Paul Salgado. I have lived in Marfa all of my life; this is my home. I have a son, Charles Salgado, and a daughter, Danielle Salgado. I am also blessed to be a grandmother of five, soon to be six.

I am retired from the Presidio County Appraisal District after 31 years of service to the citizens of Presidio County. Due to my extensive experience in this career, I have an abundance of knowledge of the city’s property taxes and laws.

Currently, I am employed part time at the Get Go Grocery Store as the office manager. I have been with the store since 2008.

I have served on the city council for two terms and feel I have good knowledge of the city finances and infrastructure. I was appointed mayor pro tem for the city after winning my second term, have been on the parks and rec board since joining council, and as of this past year, was appointed to the HOT Committee for the City of Marfa.

  1. Affordable housing has long been an issue in Marfa, and some critics say the proliferation of vacation rentals has made the shortage worse. How can Marfa improve housing availability for residents without jeopardizing the city’s tourist economy?

That is a very difficult problem in Marfa, but I do not believe that short-term rentals have that much of a bearing on the matter. Homes in Marfa are selling at outrageously high prices thus causing the rise in property values, that is the main problem. There are a large number of absentee owners that can afford the high prices and others purchase simply to turn a profit.  Sellers would have to start taking less for their properties to lower the values and that just isn’t going to happen.

I myself have offered two properties for long-term renters in the past at an affordable rate only to have the homes damaged to the extent that it was no longer viable to continue doing so. I ended up selling one of my properties and the other is currently on the short term rental market, managed by my daughter. The income derived from sharing that space helps her to provide for her family as well as cover the cost of maintaining the home and affording the high taxes. Short-term renters tend to take better care of the property which is important to us since it’s been in our family since 1949.

  1. Many roads in Marfa are in disrepair. What steps can council take to improve city infrastructure?

Streets are a major problem in the majority of the cities anywhere. The main problem is not having the funds to repair the streets. We are working with grants to get some streets worked on as we speak. Three or four blocks of repair and replacement of some streets can cost $250K or more. The burden would be on the taxpayers to cover the costs. So without raising taxes, which we don’t want to do, it will naturally take time and plenty of money to get our streets up to where they need to be.

  1. Budget season is starting this summer. What do you think Marfa’s spending priorities should be?

Definitely streets! It would be to our benefit to invest in our own equipment to work on the streets and train the public works staff to operate the equipment themselves rather than continually paying higher prices to outside contracting firms. We also have many areas in town with old sewer lines like the Ft. DA Russell addition to the City of Marfa. Water meters also need to be updated as some of them are out of date and inoperable. Delinquent utility collection accounts need to be brought current and paid off, that in itself would bring a significant amount of funds to the city.

All in all, if we work together on the challenges within our control, we can accomplish a lot for this community.

Stephen Boelter

  1. Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?

I strive to be the best I can be. I am a team member when I am not leading a team. I believe in family, friendships and community. I am a proud son of a Marfan mother and an immigrant father. I enjoy good conversations. I am a reasonable person. I like to solve problems. I love to learn. I will bring to this role my ability to work with the community for common goals which works for us all.

  1. Affordable housing has long been an issue in Marfa, and some critics say the proliferation of vacation rentals has made the shortage worse. How can Marfa improve housing availability for residents without jeopardizing the city’s tourist economy?

Find a balance. I am still studying this issue to find solutions. One idea may be for the city to look into investing in land to develop housing for residents working here.

  1. Many roads in Marfa are in disrepair. What steps can council take to improve city infrastructure?

Develop a plan and budget to fix the infrastructure using available resources, such as meeting with city officials from Alpine and working together to discuss what it would take to begin repairing our roads.

  1. Budget season is starting this summer. What do you think Marfa’s spending priorities should be?

Infrastructure, starting with the roads.


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