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May 2024

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Red River Mayoral Race Heats Up with Three Candidates

Incumbent Mayor Linda Calhoun has been the mayor of Red River since 2006. Prior to her leadership and service to the community as mayor, Calhoun served as town councilwoman for four years. Recently, she announced she was seeking to be reelected in the November 2023 election. Calhoun has been in Red River since 1978 and she is a business owner of local stores throughout Red River. She also owns a real estate business serving northern New Mexico communities.

Michael Nail has announced his candidacy for Mayor of Red River. He served the community for years as a first responder and fire chief. He has experience as a general contractor and business owner.
Robert Swan, also running, is a qualifying broker and founder of Swan Realty. He has called Red River home for nearly 40 years.

Questa del Rio News spoke with the candidates to ask why they think they’re the best candidate to be the next mayor:

Linda Calhoun:

Why should people in Red River vote to retain you as their mayor?

I was elected the first woman mayor for Red River in 2006 serving on the town council four years prior. This is my home. I have lived in Red River since 1978, and I can’t imagine ever living anywhere else. Being the mayor is what I do, I love every minute of it, and I give it 110 percent all the time.

When I first ran in 2006, my three main objectives were to constantly look towards the future, take care of the day-to-day “nuts and bolts” of the town, and to be prepared for any crises the town may face. Those priorities still influence the way I govern. I’ve been successful in obtaining over $30 million in grants and loans to upgrade our aging infrastructure, our wastewater treatment plant, our roads and our parks.

Our budget is very healthy. We were able to build a $400,000 skate park and pump track and resurface our tennis courts without borrowing any money. Workforce housing is a top priority right now. I worked with the governor, and she gave us $1 million in capital outlay to buy two lodges and convert them to workforce housing. We are currently working with a developer to look at ways to build more units.

There is no way to ever be prepared for the unknown. I’ve led our town through a natural gas outage, a pandemic, a massive windstorm, and most recently a deadly motorcycle gang shooting. We are a strong community and have managed to survive all these devastating circumstances. I do what I say I’m going to do, and I think my record speaks for itself.

What do you think is the best thing you’ve done for the people of Red River?

The most impactful and the hardest thing I have accomplished is probably the land conveyance to Red River from the federal government. Since the town incorporated, the 40 acres that contain our cemetery, Mallette Park, the wastewater treatment plant, and the fire training grounds were all on Forest Service land and we had a special use permit to operate them. This limited us to maintenance only and we still had to get permission for anything to be done. After eight years and a literal act of Congress, President Obama signed a bill conveying this land to the town in 2014. It took another four years to complete the required surveys and paperwork. Now that the land belongs to the town, we have been able to successfully expand our cemetery, upgrade Mallette Park with the new skatepark and pump track, and we have received money to build a new public works facility by the treatment plant. None of this would have been possible without the land conveyance.

Why do you think you are a better candidate than your challenging opponents, Michael Nail and Robert Swan?

Local government is complex. It takes time to develop relationships in Santa Fe and in Washington DC that will benefit our town. There are so many funding resources available to municipalities right now, but it is difficult for a small community to navigate through the red tape. With my experience and proven track record I am confident that I am the person to continue leading Red River into the future.

Michael Nail

Why are you running to be Mayor of Red River, New Mexico?

I am running for mayor because I have been in a leadership position since the age of 21, from owning and running a successful business to also being a city fire chief. I believe that with my experience and leadership skills I bring new energy and new ideas to town so we can take the next steps forward.

I am in a unique position to be able to dedicate as much time as it takes to the job. I absolutely love Red River and the community. I grew up in a small town but have never been part of a community that is so passionate about their town. I know that together we can and will make a difference.

What do you think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in Red River today?
Workforce housing is one of the biggest issues we face today. Businesses in town are all understaffed, mostly due to no affordable housing or no available housing. The town has also approved multiple large infrastructure projects that are coming up over the next year, a few have already started. With my experience and availability I will be able to manage these projects at maximum efficiency. This will cut down on delays and inconveniences to businesses. Red River businesses must capitalize on revenue during the busy seasons to be able to operate throughout the year. I will make sure that happens with the right project management.

Why do you think you can do a better job than incumbent Mayor Linda Calhoun?

Number one for me will be better communication and transparency because that’s what builds trust in the community. I will utilize all means of social media, email, the town’s text messaging system, videos, and personal visits to individuals and businesses to make sure we get the communication out to the public. All communications will be done in a timely manner, not last second. We will be more transparent than ever. Nothing will be hidden from the public!

I have researched different towns in New Mexico to see what they are doing. Farmington’s website has everything one could possibly want for town transparency – links to budgets, town projects, public information requests, and phone numbers/emails for the mayor and all the council members. Also, I do not own a business in town, so therefore, I have no hidden interests. Every business and resident will have the same level of importance. Another huge benefit in the town’s favor is that I can put in a regular 40-hour work week every week. If there is a week when I must put in 60 to 80 hours because that’s what it takes, I have the available time. I don’t have to worry about opening and running a personal business every day in addition to being mayor. I can dedicate 100 percent of my time and focus to the Town of Red River. I will use my management skills to leverage the town’s current employees and bring out the best of their talents so they can succeed. I will also utilize and listen to all the town’s committees to bring out new ideas.

The mayor is not just one person running the show; I will empower the whole town. I want the entire community to be involved as much as possible. Doing that will propel us to take the next steps forward as a town to set up the next generation for success.

Robert Swan

Why are you running to be Mayor of Red River, New Mexico?

Red River has been my home for the past 35 years. I am currently 58 years old and when I was in my 20s I spent a lot of time traveling around the world. I told myself that if I ever found a place better than Red River, I would move there. I never found that place. Obviously, Red River is a beautiful place, but what makes it special is the people and the community we have; it is like no other. The people are so supportive of one another and continually work together for the betterment of the community.
I attribute much of my personal success in family, business, and life in general directly to this community.
At this point in my life, I feel it is simply time to start giving back in the greatest capacity I can, which is why I am running for mayor.

What do you think are the most important issues in Red River today?

Red River, like all towns, has issues that through time must be dealt with. Our current issues revolve around off-highway vehicle use, housing, and improving communication between the city and the residents, among other things. In regards to current and future issues (which are inevitable), the goal is always to strive for resolutions that will retain and enhance the lives of our residents.

Why do you think you can do a better job than incumbent Mayor Linda Calhoun?

Linda Calhoun has been the Mayor for a very long time. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and our town has prospered in part due to her leadership. However, at this point in time, I strongly believe it is time for a change. I have a very different approach to doing things. I have brought a start-up company to a market leading position in a relatively short period of time due to my leadership skills, use of technology, abundant energy, and vision of what our future could look like. I will bring these same attributes to the job of mayor if elected.