As the election grows near, voters want to know about the candidates. Over the next months the Observer will be posting Q and As as responses come in. These are the candidates in Sandoval County.

Greg Bennett(D), candidate for District 3 (Rio Rancho) county commissioner

Observer: What is your background with politics, community, and your education?

I am a PhD in the biomedical sciences, where my research focused on trying to prevent birth defects. I have worked with the federal government to obtain grants and monies for specific projects for almost 30 years. I have been active in my community, volunteering in the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC), where I was involved in the planning and logistics of dealing with mass casualty events and environmental disasters such as floods or pandemics. I am also a concerned citizen that feels our local government does not reflect the people’s needs.

Observer: Why are you running for this position in particular?

I am running for this position because I believe the commission needs to better focus on truly what the county needs. Being the fastest growing county in the state, we need a managed-growth plan that emphasizes both infrastructure repair and expansion that protects our natural resources, especially water. We need to collaborate with developers to encourage their assistance in improving our infrastructure and protecting drinking water since these items are essential to new growth. This plan is needed before development occurs. This will require a master plan that anticipates new growth, the needs as well as the costs associated with that growth. Developers must also work with the county in providing new infrastructure so that the burden does not fall onto existing residents.

Observer: What do you plan to do in the first year (if you are elected)?

In the short term, I would focus the county’s attention on small businesses. We need to provide more personalized help to these businesses, both new ones that are looking to start-up or relocate within our county as well as existing businesses that want to expand. We need to better invest in Small Business Development Centers where individuals can get the critical information they need to establish and maintain their businesses. These types of businesses need to pay a living wage so the workers can afford to live within Sandoval County and not simply be employed here. We need to work closely with Municipal Economic Development Departments in bringing these businesses to the county and help them to navigate the approval processes. In my mind, the way to attract larger businesses is to have a vibrant small business community.