What’s your assessment of the performance of the current mayor and council during the past two years?
“I believe they have done an excellent job these past years. They work together and are getting things done, whether people think that they’re too slow or too fast,” Bonilla said. “I just believe that things are getting done because they work together.”
Could you give me specific examples of a few good or bad actions that the council has taken?
Bonilla pointed at the city’s infrastructure as one of the good deeds that the council has been working on.
“If you’ve noticed, they’ve been paving some streets,” he said, adding that workers have also been fixing the water lines under the roads. “So they’re fixing our roads and also fixing pretty much the infrastructure with our water system, so that’s one of them.”
“You can see this city is a clean city. It’s not dirty, it’s kept up pretty well. The parks, well they’re closed right now, but they’re always kept in good condition,” he said. “Also, they have worked to get their budget passed, so they’re fiscally responsible.”
How can you help improve the council’s performance, and if you are elected, what are two or three issues that voters can expect to see you play an especially active role in?
“As a lifetime resident and with my family here in Nogales, I’d like to be a part of helping shape the future of the city – a good quality of life. I enjoy serving my community and I know that I can work closely with the mayor and council,” he said.
“As far as me improving anything, I don’t like to use the word improve. I’m going to work with them,” Bonilla said. “Certainly, one of my most important things is economic development. I come from the hospitality business and live sound. So I think that mostly, I don’t like to use the word improve. That’s what I think I would bring to the city, work well with the mayor and council.”
What ideas do you have for mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the city’s residents and economy?
“I would like, obviously, for it to reopen. I think if we keep up using the masks and social distancing, I think that we should be OK,” he said, adding: “I think that keeping the dine-ins at half or a certain percentage open would help us.”
“We need to open up more businesses. I think that as long as we keep our face masks on, social distancing and having sanitizer when we exit any place, whether it be a store or restaurant, we would definitely have a bounce back. Also, more testing is needed here in Nogales.”
What’s your understanding of the city council’s role in a council-manager form of government?
“I support the manager form of government. I think that the manager takes care of the administrative things of the city, but the city manager answers to the mayor and city council because as elected officials, we answer to our constituents.”
Former Manager Eddie Johnson wrote a memo to council members in which he complained about Mayor Arturo Garino leading Public Works meetings, telling him about department heads who shouldn’t be in the positions, telling him to “undo” a hire, and getting involved in alleged workplace tension in the finance department. Do you think that these are appropriate actions by the mayor under a council-manager form of government, and do you think the council members have a responsibility to rein in a mayor or other council member who oversteps the boundaries?
“As far as that issue, I trust the decision of the mayor and the council members. The manager is hired by the mayor and the council to, like I told you, work out the administrative part of the city and answers to the mayor and the council,” he said, adding that the city council is “one voice” when elected.
“So I think that anything like that, that the council members don’t like, I think that they will talk to the mayor and have a meeting or discussion as far as any decision or any issues that have arisen from what the city manager is doing or is not doing.”
What do the mayor and council need to do differently at this point to attract good city manager candidates?
“That’s a hard question because they can vet a person all they want and they can ask him a whole series of questions, but sometimes it’s not always until the city manager takes decision of his job that they find out that maybe it’s not a good fit,” Bonilla said. “I believe that just having a better vetting, maybe a little more deep into his background, I think that’ll improve the process of getting a city manager.”
You ran for city council in 2018 and finished fifth in a field of six candidates in the general election (fifth in a field of seven during the primary). What will you do differently this time to improve your standing with voters?
“The first time I ran I was pretty swamped at my work and I wasn’t able to project my agenda with the voters. Now, I have been walking more, I have been spreading my message, my agenda more with voters. I have more signage up this time,” he said. “I think that what I’m doing different this time is really getting out there and meeting people, as opposed to last time that I didn’t have time for that.”
Is there anything else that you’d like the readers to know about you or your candidacy?
“Well, I ask for your vote. I love our community and will represent our residents and will work hard to continue improving our quality of life. I am a team player and an independent thinker. I believe this city is moving forward and I support the work that’s being done.”