In county race, candidates offer different skills

Ed Moreno. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Growing up in Denver in the 1960s, Ed Moreno recalls that his family of four had a television for every living being in the house — including the dog. Moreno’s parents, both from Mexico City, had immigrated to Colorado, where his father fixed TVs and radios.

Coverage of the Watergate scandal on television, radio and especially in newspapers began to captivate Americans a couple of years after Moreno graduated from Denver East High School in 1971. Moreno soon counted himself as part of the generation of journalists inspired by The Washington Post’s coverage of Watergate, stories that helped topple President Richard Nixon.

After working at small newspapers in Colorado and Nebraska, Moreno in 1976 became a reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. The Associated Press later hired him as its Capitol reporter.

“I consider my journalism career as a public service,” Moreno said.

Now, he is making the case that his time in covering politicians will help him serve residents of the Santa Fe County Commission’s 5th District.

Moreno said his reporting career, which took him to national political conventions, taught him how government works. But eventually, he yearned for something new.

“At one point it hit me that I was doing the same job over and over and over. Do you know the movie Groundhog Day?” he said, referring to the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray.

In that same year, Moreno said, he covered a news conference during which then-Gov. Bruce King, a Democrat, appointed Ray Powell as commissioner of public lands. A few weeks later, Moreno ran into Powell.

“He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come over and talk? Are you interested in working with us over there?’ ” Moreno said. “It didn’t take long to say ‘yes.’ ”

It also didn’t take long for Moreno to move from being a neutral observer of the political process to a participant. He worked as a public affairs director for Powell, a Democrat, and began attending state political conventions, chairing the platform committee for the party in 1998, he said.

Afterward, Moreno launched a business in which he lobbied for private liberal arts colleges and the Mescalero Apache Tribe. The work led Moreno to work as a mediator. He still runs a mediation practice, Ed Moreno Consulting.

Based on his life experience, Moreno said, he would take the approach of a mediator to solve problems in county government.

“There’s usually one side, two sides, maybe three sides. And what I learned was there is a way to get where you want, to where they want to go, or where they need to go,” Moreno said.

Moreno’s mediation skills were perhaps tested most in his role as the president of the Eldorado Community Improvement Association. During his tenure, a battle erupted over whether the association’s covenants allow residents to own chickens. The debate got so heated that residents threatened to fight and sue each other.

Under Moreno’s direction, the board interpreted the association’s covenant to disallow chickens. The association then sued homeowners who kept poultry . By that time, Moreno had resigned from the board.

Earlier this year, a three-member panel of the state Court of Appeals decided that Eldorado property owners could raise chickens, in part because the association’s covenants were ambiguous. That ruling reversed a lower court decision.

“I never would have wanted to take the case to court because ultimately there are rational ways for people to keep hens in suburban-setting neighborhoods,” Moreno said.

He brushed off a question about his stance on raising the gross receipts tax. He said he would first ask about the need for more tax revenues or what services the tax would support.

Though he considers himself a policy generalist, Moreno said water is one issue he follows in detail.

The Buckman Direct Diversion Project has spent millions to track whether well water was contaminated by waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory. While not taking a position on the issue, Moreno said he favors the idea of a regional water system so the county has another water source.

Contact Justin Horwath at 505-986-3017 or jhorwath@sfnewmexican.com.

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