PVA Meeting Recap – January 28, 2016

Voting Is the Heart of Democracy

Liz Rodriguez-Johnson, chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County, outlined the party’s  plan for getting out the vote. Individual districts are organized by communities, usually 3 communities within a district. GOTV events are planned for each community with community needs and characteristics in mind. All district directors are in place and contact information is on the Party’s website. The website also contains dates for the precinct meetings leading up to the nominating convention.

For more information send email to Liz.

A Very Good Day at the Office

Don Kurtz reported on last month’s Unified Action, which was to contact 5 people to let them know that the Las Cruces city election was taking place and to recommend candidates you thought best for the different positions. A total of 123 people sent back an “I did it!” It seems reasonable to assume that those 615 personal contacts played a decisive role in the  council races, one of which was won by 11 votes (by Jack Eakman) and another by 18 votes (by Kasandra Gandara).  

None of us should doubt that our individual efforts on the Unified Action–plus the hundreds of more informal conversations that we have with our friends and neighbors all year long–played a key role role in these important campaigns.

For a list of all PVA Unified Actions since 2005 go here.  To suggest a future Unified Action contact Unified Action Coordinator Cheryl Frank. For even more information send email to Don.

Legislative Response Team Wants You

Cheryl Frank explained the workings of PVA’s Legislative Response Team. Participants will be be notified by email when a bill is at a critical phase. The email will be simple: it will let you know who to contact, how to contact those individuals, and suggest the most effective thing to say.

For more information and to sign up go here. If you have questions, send email to Cheryl.

The Mayor Loves His Job

Ken Miyagashima, newly re-elected mayor of Las Cruces, gave a heartfelt thanks to those who have supported his campaigns, recent and past. He said he has enjoyed every day of his job as mayor and called public service “my dream come true.”

For more information text Ken at 575-571-2440.

D’Antonio Running for Re-election

District Attorney Mark D’Antonio asked for support as he runs for a second term. He mentioned that his opponent is supported by the governor, who has displayed a surprising lack of cooperation with her old office. Mark reminded us that the state budget shortfall will make it very difficult for his office and all of county government to operate. “Justice matters, and that’s why I’m running,” he said in closing.

For more information send email to Mark and call him at 575-312-3650.

North Valley Farmer Endorses Oscar Butler

Mary Lujan noted that we have a lot of great candidates for office in Doña Ana County and many of them are her friends, e.g., Bill McCamley, Scott Krahling, Michael Vigil, and Oscar Butler. She gave Oscar highest marks for his service as county commissioner, for the help he has provided to all the North Valley (not only the farmers), and for his deep commitment to the colonias–north, south, east, and west.

For more information send email to Mary.

Eakman’s Volunteers Prevailed Over Big Money

Pat Aguirre thanked the amazing volunteers who made it possible for Jack Eakman to win a seat on the City Council. Volunteers made it possible for Jack to win against an influx of campaign contributions for his opponent. Pat said Jack’s work ethic, his experience, and his commitment to making decisions based on facts all played a part in the victory. Not only that, they’ll make him a great city councilor.

For more information send email to Pat and call her at 575-532-5127.

Councilor Gandara Sends Thanks from Santa Fe

Connie Chapman brought news from Kasandra Gandara, who was lobbying in Santa Fe to defeat HB 55. Kasandra sent thanks to all who supported her campaign, said she is loving her new job including the steep learning curve and has had great guidance from City staff and the other councilors. She held her first community meeting with 75 residents in attendance.

For more information send email to Connie.

David Gutierrez Should Be Removed from Office

Peter goodman voiced the opinion that County Treasurer David Gutierrez should have been removed from office. Furthermore, it’s not too late to remove him. “The Democratic Party should have done this,” Peter asserted. [See his commentary on the treasurer that appeared in the January 31 Sun-News.]

For more information send email to Peter.

Support for School Board Chair Maria Flores

Rosemarie Sanchez spoke in support of Maria Flores. “You couldn’t ask for a more ethical, honest school board president,” Rosemarie said, “and she’s actually taught in a classroom!” Rosemarie urged us to actively support Maria and the board and to take the Public Education Department’s accusations with a large grain of salt.

For more information send email to Rosemarie.

Campaign Finance Reform In Las Cruces–What’s Not to Like?

Craig Fenske of Common Cause NM described a plan for small donor campaign financing of municipal elections. It sounded almost too good to be true:

  • non-serious candidates would not be able to abuse the system
  • contributions from registered voters within the candidate’s district would be matched
  • the incentives encourage candidates to contact voters and build relationships within their districts.

For more information send email to Craig and call him at 575-640-8846.

Councilor Pedroza Supports Finance Reform

Olga Pedroza jumped up to speak in support of the small donor campaign financing explained by Craig. “It’s not getting rid of Citizens United,” she said, “but it’s a good step for our city.” She urged us to let our city councilors know how we feel about it.

For more information send email to Olga.

Highly Effective Teen Health Centers in Limbo

Earl Nissen brought us up to date on the worrisome status of the school health centers–the ones that have reduced teen pregnancy rates in Doña Ana County. Last November the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico held a contract with the NM Department of Health to sponsor school-based health centers at Las Cruces, Oñate, Chaparral, and Gadsden high schools. They abruptly cancelled the contract without notifying the schools, and the centers were scheduled to close on December 31, 2015. Ben Archer Health Center agreed to cover the centers at Las Cruces and Oñate, and La Clinica would take over the centers at Chaparral and Gadsden. Students at Chaparral and Gadsden came back from vacation in January to find that the centers were closed because La Clinica had not completed all the necessary paperwork. As of January 30 the centers were still closed. It is hoped they will reopen on February 3.

For more information send email to Earl and call him at 575-496-3405.

Vote “Yes” on Feb. 2 for Mill Levy

Ed Frank, school board member, urged us to vote “yes” in the mill levy election on Tuesday, February 2. A vote in favor does not raise anyone’s  property taxes. The mill levy funds are used for the physical plant, and without them the district would have to maintain buildings with money taken from student programs.

In closing, Fred said that Skandera’s recent accusations (regarding violation of the open meetings rule, etc.) are just plain false.

For more information send email to Ed.

How about a Community School?

School Board President Maria Flores spoke of the growing possibility of community schools evolving in Las Cruces. She thanked Sharon Thomas for introducing her to the idea that a school should be a center for the whole community it serves and should meet the needs identified by the community.

Maria asked us to ask our legislators to vote no on HB 145, a bill that would create unlicensed adjunct instructors and open a can of worms.

For more information send email to Maria.

A Teacher’s Point of View

Bruce Hartman, LCPS teacher and NEA officer, said that he has been present for the school board meetings questioned by the PED and hasn’t seen the board do anything wrong. He said that Superintendent Rounds has been in Santa Fe, apparently lobbying in favor of HB 145, the bill to create uncertified adjunct instructors.

For more information send email to Bruce.

Paul Martinez for NM House District 35

Paul “Pablo” Martinez spoke of his work for civil rights and his leadership roles with LULAC. He spoke with dismay about the number of young people leaving New Mexico and said he will work to create economic opportunities so our children will stay here.

For more information send email to Paul and visit his campaign website.

Here’s How to Show Your Support for the School Board

Glenn Landers suggested that an excellent way to show support for the School Board would be to attend the work session scheduled for Tuesday, February 2. He expressed his belief that Superintendent Rounds is working against the Board.

For more information send email to Glenn.

Be the Proud Owner of a Piece of AdobeHenge

Bob Diven announced that the BLM has made the important step of assigning a case number to the AdobeHenge lease application. You can now pledge to “purchase” elements of the monument, e.g., $50 for a brick, $1000 for a beam. Your gift would be acknowledged in a thoroughly tasteful manner, of course! Be sure to follow Adobe Henge on Twitter. [Set up an account if you don’t have one–it’s painless and free. Just do it! Then see Lucas Herndon’s offer below.]

For more information send email to Bob and follow AdobeHenge on Twitter and Facebook.

Scott Krahling for County Clerk

Scott Krahling announced that he’s running for county clerk because he is the most qualified person to make sure we have fair elections. As clerk he would insure that every qualified high school senior will know why voting matters and be registered to vote before graduation.

For more information send email to Scott, call him at 575-640-6205, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Rudy Martinez Running to Reclaim NM District 39

Rudy explained that Doña Ana County is critical for retuning the New Mexico House to Democratic control. He said that getting out the vote is the key to success, and now is the time to start talking to your family, your friends, and your neighbors. “Drag people to the polls,” he suggested.

For more information send email to Rudy and call him at 575-534-7546.

Isn’t it Time You Learned to Tweet?

Lucas Herndon of Progress Now NM recommended the power, influence, and speed of social media when it comes to mustering support for a cause. He offered to organize a workshop on how to use Facebook and Twitter to mobilize support for progressive causes, including getting good bills passed and bad ones defeated. Let Lucas know if you’re interested in learning more.

For more information send email to Lucas and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Wayne Hancock Running for Reelection to County Commission

Wayne Hancock, recently elected chair of the County Commission, gave a big thank you to Billy Garrett for his two-and-a-half years of leadership in that job. “Billy set the stage,” he said. Wayne mentioned that he is running for reelection and will need a lot of help with that campaign.

Wayne announced that the South Central Transit buses will be rolling on Presidents’ Day, February 15.

For more information send email to Wayne and call him at 575-520-4560.

Oscar Vasquez Butler for NM Senate

Oscar Butler asked for support in his bid for NM Senate District 36. He spoke of his experience as a farmer, Air Force????, and public servant. He has served on the County Commission and the board of Avance New Mexico. His priorities are early childhood education, taking care of our water resources, addressing mental health needs, and providing infrastructure for the colonias.

For more information send email to Oscar and call him at 575-621-8385.

Joanne Ferrary for NM House

Joanne announced that she is running for NM House District 37. She mentioned her recent work as an advocate for raising the minimum wage statewide and her service on the Planning and Zoning Commission. She said that we’ve settled for too little in southern New Mexico, and we need to start investing in our communities–in education and infrastructure.

For more information send email to Joanne, call her at 575-649-1231, and visit her campaign website joanne4nm.com.

Rose Ann Vasquez Endorses Angelica Rubio for NM House

Rose Ann Vasquez spoke in support of Angelica Rubio, candidate for House District 35. She said she has seen Angelica roll up her sleeves and do the hard work of bringing about change. “New Mexico needs change, and Angelica is a champion of change,” she said.

For more information send email to Rose Ann.

Angelica Rubio for NM House District 35

Angelica said that one of her motivations to run is the fact that 30% of children in New Mexico live in poverty. “I grew up in poverty,” she said, “but I lucked out. Kids should not have to depend on luck.” She said that the hardworking people in District 35 had insisted that she run.

For more information send email to Angelica and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Wetland Restoration Happening Now, for Real

Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center said that enormous machines are moving massive amounts of earth at La Mancha Wetlands restoration project. The public can begin volunteering their labor and making donations of bat houses, trees, wildlife video cameras, etc.

On the down side, wolves are in trouble. The New Mexico Game Commission has “an anti-nature, anti-wolf agenda,” Kevin said. The SWEC website has a ton of information and ways to help.

For more information send email to Kevin.

El Paso Electric Rate Case Update

Allen Downs had somewhat good news for El Paso Electric customers. Solar users will not pay higher rates than everyone else. The City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, and the New Mexico Attorney General Balderas were all extremely helpful at the rate hearings before the Public Regulation Commission. It seems possible that rates will be raised much less than EPE requested. Approval of a customer choice rate looks promising.

For more information send email to Allen.

Merrie Lee Soules for Congress

Merrie Lee Soules announced that she is running for Congress in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. She said she stood up to El Paso Electric (at the rate hearings) and now she’ll stand up to Rep. Pearce.

For more information send email to Merrie Lee and visit the campaign website SoulesUSCongress.com.

Speak up for the Planet

Alice Anderson said, “The worst obstacle to climate change solutions is Steve Pearce. Vote for Merrie Lee.” She asked us to write, call, email, or meet with Senators Udall and Heinrich when they are home (March 24 to April 11). She recommended that we advocate the tax and dividend approach to controlling carbon emissions. You can learn all about it on from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

For more information send email to Alice and call her at 575-523-5179.

A Thank You from Councilor Smith

Greg Smith thanked those who supported him in the November election and promised to keep on being the kind of official who will deserve your vote even though you do not always agree with him.

For more information send email to Greg.

Keep Watching EPE

Rocky Bacchus let us know that an investigation is underway to determine if EPE presented false information in the PRC rate hearings. Rocky urged us to let our elected officials know that we care about this issue.

For more information send email to Rocky.

Nathan Small for District 36

Nathan Small announced that he is running for New Mexico House District 36, the seat currently held by Andy Nuñez. “Together we can do incredible things,” he said and reminded us of accomplishments such as the National Monument, Amador Próximo, and the thwarted recall attempt. “By standing together, we can return the New Mexico House to Democratic control,” he concluded.

For more information send email to Nathan.

Sierra Club vs. Methane

Alex Renire announced that the Sierra Club is launching a local advocacy campaign to curb methane emissions nationwide via EPA regulations. Be looking for events and actions that will take place in Las Cruces in March.

To be informed and involved send email to Alex or Christine Newtson.

Constitution Workshop at NMSU May be Well Worth $10

Elisa Sanchez went to the nonpartisan training for candidates sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce last year. She felt it wasn’t exactly nonpartisan, but the information was first-rate, and now she’s on the mailing list and receives frequent emails outlining conservative strategies for winning elections. She recommended signing up for a workshop on the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. Constitution Workshop
February 20, 2016
Corbett Center, NMSU

You can direct questions about the workshop to Chuck Wendler at 915-470-3337 or candiwendler@aol.comFor more information send email to Elisa.

Remembering Miguel Silva

Ernesto Flores, a psychiatrist with a long-time practice in Las Cruces, paid tribute to Miguel Silva, a public servant known and loved and mourned by many of us. He noted that Miguel was open about his struggle with bipolar disorder and said that Miguel’s suicide is a reminder of the great unmet need for mental health services in our community.

For more information send email to Ernesto.

Work Hard, Work Smart, Work with Heart

Billy Garrett spelled out the difficulties facing New Mexico cities and counties in 2016. Money will be extremely tight because of reduced oil and gas revenues on top of poor recovery from the recession. With tight budgets difficult decisions have to be made. Do we want decision makers who will work for the benefit of all and not just a limited few? In the 2016 elections progressive candidates will be up against opponents with very big money. Every race will matter. “We need to work hard, work smart, and work with heart.”

For more information send email to Billy.

KTAL-FM (Get It? ¿Que tal?)

Mary Ann Hendrickson put in a plug for KTAL-FM, the community radio station that is happening in Las Cruces. KTAL will be at 101.5 on the FM band. You can lean more about them on Facebook. Suggestions and volunteers are welcome.

For more information send email to Mary Ann.

Enough with the Intimidation

Amy Carpenter, recently retired secondary teacher, said she was concerned about the negative impact that excessive testing is having on students. She urged a thorough investigation into the ties among the Public Education Department, Secretary Skandera, and PARCC.

For more information send email to Amy.

County Assessor’s Office Aims to Serve

Paul Ponce made the county assessor’s staff sound like the nicest people in town. Property valuation notices will be mailed out April 1. You have a month to look things over and get back to the assessor with questions. They will answer all your questions and make sure the valuation is right.

For more information send email to Paul.

Round Two

[At PVA everyone may speak for 2 minutes. After everyone who wishes has had a chance to speak once, you may speak for a second time (still 2 minutes).]

  • Scott Krahling urged us to support HJR 2, a constitutional amendment that would allow automatic voter registration. Also, online voter registration is now available to New Mexicans. Instructions are here.
  • Nathan Small invited everyone to participate in four days of collaboration on the Downtown Master Plan. Events are scheduled for February 16, 17, 18, and 19. A complete schedule is here.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m.
Munson Center

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