February 23, 2024
  • 5:10 pm SEASON PREVIEW: Muleshoe baseball and softball aiming to put itself on the map in 2024
  • 5:09 pm City Council orders City General Election, Special Election
  • 5:09 pm Driftwood and eyes that see
  • 5:08 pm The mayor of Needmore
  • 5:05 pm A class act is what she is

By Teresa Young

Saturday’s vote in Muleshoe will determine who will fill the seat being vacated by Mayor Cliff Black, who is retiring after 25 years of service to the community. The two candidates for mayor are profiled here in alphabetical order.
Colt Ellis
Colt Ellis is a native of Muleshoe and is 30. He and wife, Leslie, have a daughter, Bentlee, 6. Ellis is owner and manager of Ellis Funeral Home, the third generation to run the business, which has been in Muleshoe more than 60 years.
He serves on the Panhandle Funeral Directors Association and the Texas Funeral Directors Association and is past president of the area board.
Ellis currently serves on the Muleshoe City Council as District 1 representative, a role he won at age 22. He serves on the board of the Economic Development Corporation and the Bailey County Appraisal District. He is also one of the founders of the annual Mule Days and Kickin’ Nights event, a concert fundraiser that benefits the local Meals on Wheels organization.
“One of my key points in developing that was giving back to the town, and before COVID, Meals on Wheels was serving 85-90 people per day. They used to be federally funded but now they just rely on donations,” he said.
Ellis shared these thoughts about his run for mayor.
Q. Why did you choose to run?
A. Since I’ve been serving on the council, this is just another way to give back to my community and serve the community. I’ve enjoyed my time, and we have a well-run city. We have a couple of projects I have helped to get started and so when I found out our current mayor was leaving, I wanted to jump in there and see those projects through.
Q. What are your priorities?
A. Currently, those projects are my priorities. One issue we face is that we are landlocked. The railroad is great but it land-locks us for commercial and residential development. We’ve been working on this for a long time. I’ve served with three different city managers, and this is something we’ve all been working on. It may finally be opening up to see some development and growth in this town. Housing is an issue as well, so I think once we are able to develop this area, it will be a little easier for people to find housing.
The other project is putting lights around the walking trail of the park, and I’ve been a big proponent of getting that done. That’s been well received by our community, and we want to go ahead and get that completed. Any of those quality-of-life issues we try to focus on to give back to our community. We also have to focus on our infrastructure. Our city has been making a plan for water for a long time and we continue to attack that pretty aggressively.
Q. What’s your vision for Muleshoe and why?
A. I just want to keep Muleshoe progressive, and I don’t think a lot of small towns are progressive. Even our legal counsel says that we act bigger than we are, and I want to keep that going. That’s why I am involved from the economic development aspect as well. I’ve pushed for us to move to a Type B EDC and be more flexible with those funds, and we just got that accomplished in the last year and a half. It’s important to be progressive.
Q. What do you think is important for our city right now and why?
A. In the last 2-3 years, we have focused on a lot of infrastructure here and we need to continue to focus on that. Not many times do we have issues with water, and we have a great crew at the city to take care of it. We have done that through grants and bonds to take care of our infrastructure problems. We addressed both water towers, painting both and abating one of them. We put in a new lift station in the water treatment facility and an above-ground storage tank to replace one that was very old and had slow leaks. We were able to accomplish a lot of infrastructure issues and we have to continue to focus on that, but we can’t continue to raise taxes. In the eight years I have been on the council, we have only increased taxes one time, and I’m very proud of that. Not many entities in this area can say that.
Q. What sets you apart from your opponent?
A. I really don’t know her or have anything against. I think I’m a good person for the job and care a lot about this community.

Erin Gonzales
A resident of Muleshoe since age 10, Erin Gonzales is married to Muleshoe native B.J. Gonzales and has a daughter, 9, and son, 6.
Gonzales, age 33, is a nurse practitioner who runs a private family practice in the community. She has held several leadership roles related to her field, including serving on boards for the Panhandle Nurse Practitioners Association, the Family Guidance and Outreach Center and the Accountable Care Organization for Medicare and Medicaid. She is also in Sigma Theta Tau, a nursing leadership organization.
Gonzales has never run for public office but has had a longtime interest. When she left her previous job with the Veterans Administration that prevented her from holding office, she knew she wanted to run.
“I knew our mayor was retiring and that Muleshoe needed someone that listened to all voices and was in tune with the community to be that voice,” she said.
Gonzales shared the following thoughts about her run for mayor.
Q. Why did you choose to run?
A. I love this community and I want to see it continue to grow and be prosperous. It’s a big deal.
Q. What are your priorities?
A. My priorities are reviewing the fiscal budget for our community. We spend a lot and are in a high tax bracket. We want to be fiscally transparent and responsible with the dollars we are spending from our taxpayers. I would like to see us maybe even trying to get some grants with the pandemic that might save us from spending taxpayer dollars. We need to hire grant writers and use our tax dollars in new unique ways. I would like to see a focus on economic development, attracting new business and keeping the small businesses already in our community. We need to make sure that they have the potential to grow and that we don’t remove their incentive to stay here.
Q. What’s your vision for Muleshoe and why?
A. I want to see continued prosperity. I want to see us continuing to invest in our community every day. There are so many in our age group that have the opportunity and level of knowledge but are not interested in helping.
Q. What do you think is important for our city right now and why?
A. Financial transparency. We have some transparency but we need to look at spending in a different way. I have run a small business through a pandemic that did NOT get any federal funding so I know how to run a budget and fill out paperwork. I’m a middle class mom, so I know how to stretch that dollar over a two-week pay period. It’s important that there is leadership but also the networking and relationship-building to help the community.
Q. What sets you apart from your opponent?
A. I don’t know him personally so I can’t say anything about him.

Rhea Gonzales

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