June 2020 – Virtual PVA

Court of Appeals Nomination Process

With Judge Linda Vanzi’s sudden retirement from the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Las Crucen Karl Rysted was one of 11 applicants vying to be the Democratic nominee who will appear on the ballot for that position in the November election. He did not receive the nomination and would like to thank everyone who encouraged him, saying he learned a lot from the process. “No surprise,” remarked Karl, “that an attorney from the northern part of the state was nominated, once again.”

Karl and his wife have lived in Las Cruces for 6 years, and he serves as the Student Legal Aid Attorney and Advisor to the NMSU student government. He has 28 years of experience as an attorney and four years ago was named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, an honor reserved to 1% of lawyers licenced in each jurisdiction. For more information, contact Karl.

Working to achieve RESULTS in global health and education

Rich Renner, with RESULTS, seeks our help in convincing our congressional delegation to include international health and education efforts in emergency bills related to the coronavirus. American leadership on global health and education has been vital to the advances that have been made over the past 30 years, and it remains critical today, especially as the pandemic threatens to reverse incredible accomplishments in these areas over the past three decades.

This month’s RESULTS action is to write, call or email Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Rep. Torres Small and urge them to support funding for international programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, maternal and childhood survival, and global education. For more information visit the RESULTS website or email Rich.

New Mexico’s kids must be our priority

Las Cruces 2017 Teacher of the Year Cheryl Carreon calls our attention to the challenges students faced in New Mexico even before COVID-19.  Teachers were paying for their own classroom supplies, schools lacked the resources to address student social and emotional needs, custodial and maintenance were short-staffed, and there has been a shortage of teachers and resources throughout our public schools. Cheryl told us that it is imperative that we ask our legislators to #FundEd100%. Messages to your own legislators are easy to send here or you can contact Cheryl for more information.

Councilor Gill Sorg addresses police reform in Las Cruces

Gill shared his concern about the current policing paradigm in the United States and its effect on people of color. He indicated his support for banning chokeholds and neck restraints; better warnings before shooting; holding officers responsible for not intervening when seeing another officer acting abusively or dangerously; better training in general but specifically for the use of force continuum; better de-escalation actions; banning shooting at people in moving vehicles; comprehensive reporting and strong sanctions for knowingly false reports; and most of all targeted emergency services to deal with those members of the public who are suffering from mental health and other social issues. 

Gill is aware that the police have a very difficult job, and he wants to support officers with regular and effective training. “So many things they encounter in their day to day work must be decided very quickly,” Gill said, “and a well-trained force can make better decisions.” He fully supports community policing. If you want to talk more about any of these issues, contact Gill.

An opportunity to make a difference through AmeriCorps VISTA

Beloved Community is a small grassroots organization that engages the contributions of community members to address intellectual and developmental disabilities in various ways, including community building, collaborative community art and applied theater performances to promote understanding of the disability experience, neurotypical privilege and ableism as well as to challenge oppressive attitudes and social norms and envision a more inclusive community.

This non-profit has a service opportunity available through the AmeriCorps VISTA Program. The VISTA member will earn a living stipend, health benefits, paid time off and, at the end of the service year, a $6,000 educational stipend. This person will work behind the scenes to assist Beloved Community in expanding community outreach, volunteer recruitment and coordination, building membership, and fundraising.  

Click here to apply. For more information, email Kay Lilley or call 575-637-4448.

Indivisible gets its Zoom on

Linda G. Harris shared the good news that from now until election day Indivisible Las Cruces has scheduled a lineup that will keep us up-to-date on key issues and candidates. The schedule includes two types of zooms. “Program Zooms” replace Indivisible’s in-person meetings and are longer and include Q&A time. “Noon Zooms” are half-hour, one-on-one conversations between Indivisible and invited guests. The June 24 Zoom featured campaign consultants Connie Chapman and Luis Guerrero who gave us a behind-the-scenes look at campaign management; both were instrumental in the recent successes of campaigns ranging from NM State Senate, to Las Cruces Mayor and Alamogordo City Council. Upcoming:  

  • July 8 — Noon Zoom discussion “Marijuana in New Mexico’s Future?”  
  • July 22 — Noon Zoom conversation with Diana Tittle about “Ramping Up for Nov. 3.”  

Before attending a specific Zoom, register ahead of time by emailing Linda. She will send you a link the day of the meeting to join the Zoom meeting. For more information, email Linda.  

Cruces Contigo connects community during physical isolation 

Doña Ana Communities United has started a free program initiative called Cruces Contigo. Cruces Contigo is a way for Las Crucens to help each other during this time of physical distancing. All of this is done in the comfort and safety of your home. Each resident is paired with another participant and agrees to check in on each other a few times per week. This can be done by text, email, video call or phone call. Anyone can become a Cruces Contigo member today. To get started, take a short survey. Contact coordinator Adalis at (915) 314-0746 or visit their website for further information.   

The DACA decision

Click the link below to read/hear a statement on the Supreme Court’s DACA decision from the ACLU; on the video, giving the statement, is Andrea R. Flores, of Las Cruces (Maria & Ernie’s daughter). She acknowledges that the decision gives us reason to celebrate, but there is still a lot of work to be done — in other words, Congress needs to provide permanent protection for dreamers. Click here to view the video. For more information, email Maria.

Curious about what the school year will look like? Spoiler alert: so is LCPS

School Board Vice-President Maria Flores wants to update us on plans to reopen schools; the first day of school is set for August 12, 2020. Maria said there is a lot of work taking place to adapt classrooms, bathrooms, and offices, and to figure out what the school day will look like. The district continues to wait for more direction from the state Public Education Department; it is now known that the PED is allowing 50% capacity in our schools. She says it will be a hybrid model, with some class time, and some online instruction. Advise parents you know to keep their numbers current, so that texts, and emails from the schools will be received. For more information, visit the school district’s website.

Tune your radio to KTAL Community Radio!

KTAL Program Manager, Linda Hall, wanted us to know that Walt Rubel and Peter Goodman will broadcast interviews with candidates on their Wednesday morning “Speak Up Las Cruces” show from August 26 – October 28, 8am – 10am, on KTAL LP, Community Radio located at 101.5 on your FM dial or streamed online at lccommunityradio.org. You will find the schedule of candidate interviews on the PVA calendar. For more information, email Linda.

We are not a poor state. Let’s stop acting like one.   

Elaine Sullivan of the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity reported that creation of a New Mexico Public Bank — which will bring a much needed change to how our state deposits and invests public dollars — is gaining supporters across the state, with a goal of passing enabling legislation at next year’s session. AFLEP’s Banking Committee is made up of seasoned banking and finance executives, and their just-completed plan addresses the public bank’s structure, governance, capitalization, and underlying principles, as well as providing a pro forma for the first 3-5 years of the bank’s operation. The time is now to make sure New Mexico deposits and invests our public dollars in our local communities, not in Wall Street. For more information, visit the AFLEP website or contact them at info@aflep.org; if you would like to be involved in this exciting project, email Elaine

Personal Influence Networks make a difference!

Don Kurtz thanked everyone for maintaining and activating their Personal Influence Networks in the recent election. Beyond our support for candidates and their campaigns, Don believes that reaching out personally to our friends, neighbors and family is the most directly effective thing each of us can do to elect good leaders to office. As we move forward, we can continue adding people to our lists of those who share our values, and keeping that list somewhere we can find it when it’s time to once again activate our PINs. The power of democracy is in our hands.  For more information, contact Don

Peter Goodman makes it easy with a list

1. Support our local Farmers Market.

2. Voter Suppression is our major danger in November (armed Trumpists, a shortage of voting machines and malfunctions in non-Republican areas, plus strong efforts by the Trump Administration to discourage reasonable vote-by-mail rules while trying to throttle the U.S. Post Office) 

3. Contact Peter if you have something you want to bring up on Peter’s program on KTAL Radio. Call the station at 526-5825 during the Wednesday show (8-10 a.m.) or contact Peter in advance at 575-489-7090 to get onto the schedule.                     

Update from Neomi Martinez-Parra’s Campaign

Neomi Martinez-Parra, candidate for State Senate, District 35, is thrilled to have won her primary election against John Arthur Smith. The campaign work continues, as she and her campaign staff look towards the general. She reports that she continues to reach out to voters via: phone calls, digital ads, mailers, newspaper ads and social media. She says, “Muchas Gracias!” to her team and to friends/supporters throughout the state. Neomi says she’s enormously grateful for the support she is receiving and for the endorsements she has earned from Sierra Club, Conservation Voters of NM, Maria’s List, Ole’, Working Families Party, Free Thought Equality Fund, Planned Parenthood, IBEW, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, United States Senator Martin Heinrich, Latino Victory Fund, and NEA-NM. “It’s my hope that with my victory in November, the working people of my district will have a Senator they can count on for support.” To volunteer, or donate, or if you have any questions or concerns, email Neomi or call 575-654-0774. For more information, visit the campaign website or Facebook page.

Quarantine life: Time to consider existential questions (… also hair issues)

Ann McCullough is the Doña Ana County Field Organizer for Rep. Rudy Martinez’s campaign. She says, “Besides finding out what color my hair really is, this time apart has given me the opportunity to think about what is really important. One thing in my life that is really important is to help Rudy Martinez get re-elected to the State House.” Rep. Martinez represents pieces of 3 counties, including 13 precincts in Doña Ana County. If you would like to volunteer, donate to his campaign, or just get more information about Rudy, you can email Ann or call 575-524-2601. 

Two victories and a task

Kevin Bixby, with the Southwest Environmental Center, had some very good news plus a small task: 

  1. The proposal to dam the Gila River — New Mexico’s last free-flowing river — is dead! By a 7-2 vote on June 18th, the NM Interstate Stream Commission stopped the environmental review process for a proposed diversion project, putting an end to the 16-year battle to protect the Gila River, and making $70 million available to four southwestern counties for new non-Gila River water projects. Kevin reminds us that “this victory shows the importance of perseverance when it comes to protecting the environment.” 
  2. In another major victory last week, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act!!  Under the legislation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would be permanently and fully funded at $900 million annually rather than having funding levels determined by Congress every year. The bill now goes to the House where it is expected to pass. President Trump has indicated he will sign it. 
  3. Finally, Doña Ana County’s contract with USDA Wildlife Services is up for renewal. This is the agency tasked with addressing wildlife conflicts, usually by killing the animals. Last year many of you called on the County Commission to end its contract with Wildlife Services and adopt The People’s Contract, an alternative agreement that prioritized non-lethal methods and prohibited cruel and indiscriminate lethal methods. The County Commission rejected the People’s Contract, but imposed a new requirement on Wildlife Services to try non-lethal methods at least twice before resorting to killing an animal. Now, one year later, nothing has changed. Kevin asks us to contact our county commissioner and tell him or her it’s time for a change. Click here for more information.

For more information, visit SWEC’s website or email Kevin.

House Democrats sum up the special session

Rep. Joanne Ferrary wanted to pass along Special Session highlights from House Democrats: “House Democrats fought hard to respond to the needs of all New Mexicans this Special Legislative Session. Our retooled budget builds a framework for recovery that reflects our New Mexico values of providing quality education, health care, and jobs to all. We put forward a plan to provide $500 million in relief for small, locally-owned, mom and pop businesses, preserved Medicaid benefits, and renewed our commitment to educate our kids and keep their dreams alive. House Democrats have also responded to continued calls for racial justice and are in this fight alongside all New Mexicans. Calling for greater accountability and transparency of law enforcement, House Democrats passed a bill to require all law enforcement officers to wear body-worn cameras. And through the establishment of a Civil Rights Commission, New Mexico will bring people together to identify the best ways to achieve justice for New Mexicans whose constitutional rights have been violated. This is just the beginning of achieving a truly equitable, just, and inclusive society for all New Mexicans.” For more information, email Joanne.

Here is an update on El Paso Electric (EPE) and the Public Regulation Commission (PRC)

EPE has recently received permission from the PRC for 200MW of solar and 50MW of

battery storage as system resources (to serve all of EPE’s customers). They are now

asking for permission to buy 70MW of solar for New Mexico only – to help meet the

Renewable Energy Act requirement that 20% of the electricity sold in New Mexico come

from renewable sources. The requirement becomes 40% in 2025, 50% in 2030, 80% in

2040, and 100% non-carbon in 2045 (which means EPE can continue to use its share of nuclear power from The Palo Verde Nuclear Plant in Arizona). Ongoing is EPE’s request for approval to buy a new 228MW gas fired generator. Intervenors oppose EPE’s request. Public Service of NM had also asked the PRC to approve solar, storage and a gas plant, but the PRC’s decision, announced yesterday (Wednesday) approved solar, storage, denied the gas plant, and asked PNM to pursue additional solar. This is a great precedent for us with El Paso Electric. And remember Merrie Lee’s battle cry – (Say it out loud!) NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION. For more information, email Allen.

Democratic Party of Doña Ana County is gearing up for the Nov. 3 general election

Doña Ana Democratic Party Chair Mona Trempe thanks you for voting in the Primary Election. Full election results for each race in the State can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. She is enthusiastic to reach out to voters in all corners of Doña Ana County for the November election. Voter outreach is expected to look very different this year. That is, usual activities such as house parties, knocking on doors, and spreading the word at festivals and parades are likely to remain limited due to the public health emergency. So, older methods (sending mail, making phone calls, etc.) as well as newer technologies (sending texts, hosting online events, sharing social media posts, etc.) will be needed. 

DPDAC needs volunteers for “Get out the Vote” efforts and for the Coordinated Campaign. Mona invites anyone who is interested in getting involved to fill out this form to let DPDAC know your current contact information and preferences for volunteer activities, such as phone calls, texting, social media, addressing postcards, or data entry. We also ask about in-person canvassing, just in case. Feel free to reach out directly to Rick Kiley, the DPDAC Volunteer Coordinator, by phone at  575-642-2432 or by email at r_kiley@sbcglobal.net. For more information, email Mona.


Carrie Hamblen, Democratic Nominee for the District 38 Senate Seat, is extremely grateful to everyone who made her campaign a success. Carrie would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” to the dozens of people who helped make this happen.  First, her wife, Char Ullman, who has been her biggest cheerleader from the beginning of this dream, and supported her every step of the way. Carrie thanks her “campaign wife,” Connie Chapman, as well, who navigated the voter database, developed various strategies and approaches to reaching voters, and who patiently debriefed with her every night after voter calls. She extends thanks to Erica McDowell for her mastery with spreadsheets; her phone calling goddess Rosemarie Sanchez; Vanessa Dabovich for a highly successful texting campaign; and Sinuate Media for their work on branding, social media, and website development. 

Carrie is grateful for her phone volunteers, fundraiser hosts, and all of Carrie’s Crew, and to all of her family of friends and co-workers for providing grounding, humility, and love during the campaign. She thanks the voters for sharing their concerns and their vision about where we need to go as a region and as a state. And finally she extends a heartfelt thank you to Senator Mary Kay Papen for her 20 years of service to our region, her tireless advocacy on behavioral and mental health, and for being committed to improving the lives of those in District 38.  For more information, email Carrie, or visit the campaign website

Support for a NM Public Bank

Kathy Wooten wanted us to know more about public banking, a concept unfamiliar to most of us, but one that has successfully been aiding and responding to citizens in North Dakota for 100 years. Such banking institutions, unlike Global Banks, support local Community Banks and Credit Unions in responding to their community’s small business and individual needs. They serve the higher purpose of enabling a new economic story that prioritizes local self-reliance, and their structure includes a firewall between banking and politics which allows them to be responsive to the local citizens’ needs while remaining protected from political tampering.  

2021 is the year that the Alliance For Local Economic Prosperity will have a bill ready for our Legislature to authorize a New Mexico State Public Bank. For more information, email the Alliance For Local Economic Prosperity. (And take a look at this excellent two minute video.)  For more information, email Kathy.

Karen Whitlock says thank you!

Campaign manager, Rick Lass, says, “Thank you to everyone who voted in the Democratic Primary, and an extra thank you to people who contacted friends in their Personal Influence Networks in Grant and Sierra Counties. WE DID IT!  We needed 106 write in votes to get Karen on the ballot and we got 1114. Karen will now appear as the Democratic Party Nominee for State Representative, District 38.” For more information, email Rick or visit the campaign website.

DACU’s timebank needs you! 

Doña Ana Communities United (DACU) is a community-based organization that works to advance health equity. They do this through four main initiatives: Mesilla Valley Timebank, Social Equity Mapping, Cruces Contigo, and Just Community Radio Show (every Thursday from 8 to 9 AM on our community radio station, KTAL-LP 101.5 FM).

DACU is always seeking community members to join our timebank since we all know each person has unique and valuable gifts to share. A timebank is a community made up of individuals and organizations who have agreed to exchange services with one another free of charge. Instead of compensating one another in dollars, pesos, or other monetary currency, timebank members exchange services by the hour. Please attend the next orientation to join. The timebank is still in full swing (they encourage virtual exchanges and following CDC recommendations when in-person exchanges do occur). 

Upcoming Events (virtual and open to all!)

  • Timebank Orientation: July 16th (5:30 to 7 PM)
  • VirtualCoffee Hour: every Wednesday (10 to 11 AM)
  • United Friday: every Friday (2 to 3 PM)
  • DACU Team Meeting: July 30th (11 AM to 1 PM)

Please visit the DACU website for further information and for information on how to participate in upcoming events. You can also email Samantha or call her at 575.323.1422 for more information. 

Looking toward the future

E. Shirley Baca wanted to take a moment to say, “Congratulations to all of the winners of the Primary Election!” She hopes that candidates who are elected in the fall take the opportunity to represent all New Mexicans. “These are challenging times,” says Shirley, “and we must all work together for the betterment of all New Mexicans, young and old.” She also acknowledges and thanks those who lost their elections. “Your past service is appreciated and hopefully the future will give you time to spend with loved ones doing the fun things you had to put off.” Now onto the general election: get involved in campaigns — vote! For more information, email Shirley.

A life changing experience

Following the murder of George Floyd, Oprah Winfrey hosted (virtually) an excellent two-part conversation about systemic racism with leading African American thinkers.  Included in the panel were Reverend William Barber II, Stacey Abrams, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and many others. The discussions were titled “Where Do We Go From Here.” You can access them on Xfinity/Comcast using the xfinity button on your remote, leading to “Black Voices, Black Stories” among the choices at the bottom of the screen.  You can also say “where do we go from here” using the microphone feature on the remote.

Ann Gutierrez said, “Many of you probably watched it when it was first presented, but I did not. It is an amazing experience to hear the subject discussed by people who understand firsthand how systemic racism works in this country. I highly recommend watching this. I might even say it will be a life changing experience. It was for me.”  For more information, email Ann.

Our 16th Annual PVA Party! (Not)

Social distancing may have forced cancellation of our Annual Party, but it won’t keep the PVA Executive Committee from our annual re-telling of the PVA Creation Story. One month after disappointing results in the 2004 presidential election, volunteers from the John Kerry campaign gathered at the Mesilla Community Center, where anyone could take the microphone and speak for two minutes, with no one speaking twice until everyone who wanted to had spoken once. 

Sixteen years later we follow the same format on a monthly basis, with our archive of Meeting Recaps providing a lively history of progressive change in Southern New Mexico. The most exciting and significant of those many meetings are the one we just had and the ones coming up, as we keep growing together, listening appreciatively to one another, and each doing our own particular and essential part for meaningful change in the world.

PVA takes a break in July
PVA meets again: August 27, 2020
Virtual or In-Person – TBD – We will let you know!

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