August 22, 2019

Be in the know about Community Schools

David Greenberg, the Las Cruces Public Schools Community Schools Director, discussed with everyone what the Community Schools program does. The purpose of a Community School is to create a neighborhood hub that provides community engagement, family engagement, social services, and health services within the schools to help students/families overcome the barriers they face.

There is often an effort to blame teachers, educators, and students alike for what are actually social systemic failures. When it comes to education in NM, things can sometimes seem pretty bleak. However, because Las Cruces has stepped up and supported the community school program, the City/School District has become a leader in the country, doing innovative things to support students.

Lynn Middle School became a Community School in 2017 and has helped set priorities for the community. When it was discovered that kids were going to Young Park after school without supervision, the school engaged a STEM outreach center and Boys and Girls Club satellite campus which offers free after-school programming three days a week. Lynn found that almost 50% of the students felt they didn’t have a trusted adult in their life, so they added 20 hours to the schedule for extended learning. New mentorship programs were launched, such as:

  • HAZLO mentorship program which works with Cruces Creatives, where students work with adults on different projects
  • The STARS mentorship program where high school kids work with younger kids after school

Lynn has also taken on student hunger by offering healthy snacks in the family center and food drives for families. Lynn has a dental clinic in the school (a first for Las Cruces), and mental health is in the curriculum.

What are some things that you can do to help community schools? Who you vote for in the upcoming local election (for school board, mayor, and city council) will make a difference. You can also call your representatives and ask for additional funds for community schools’ programs.

The district hopes to transition at least two more schools to community schools in the near future.

For more information, check out the website.

August Unified Action

This month’s Unified Action pertains to healthcare and is sponsored by the Protect the Promise campaign. Jessica Stout articulated why programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are so critical for millions of Americans. The Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) has lowered the cost of quality health care and strengthened these programs. The ACA has also helped prevent health insurance providers from rejecting or charging higher premiums due to “pre-existing medical” conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and asthma. Even though the ACA benefits millions of Americans, President Trump and his administration have tried to repeal the ACA which would disrupt 15 million people (including 90,000 New Mexicans). This would cause steep increases in drug prices, disrupt access to free birth control, mammograms, and cholesterol tests.

What we are asking: Send a letter to Sen. Martin Heinrich asking him to continue supporting the ACA.

If you’re not sure what to say, please use the provided template and/or personalize it to make your voice heard. When you’ve done it, click here to let us know!

For more information, email Jessica.

Your El Paso Electric Update

Allen Downs started off the two-minutes-per-person-part of the meeting with an update about El Paso Electric’s proposed acquisition by Sun Jupiter Holdings. El Paso Electric filed an application on Tuesday, August 20. According to the filing, if the acquisition is approved: El Paso Electric will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Jupiter. None of the costs of the acquisition will be passed on to ratepayers. Currently, shareholders are set to receive $68.25 per share. El Paso Electric’s status as a standalone, independently operated, locally managed public utility will not change and they will give New Mexico customers $4.2 million dollars in rate credits over the next three years. El Paso Electric will also contribute $5 million dollars per year for 20 years to a “Community Economic Sustainability Fund” to promote economic development in El Paso Electric’s territory; the acquisition should be completed before June of 2020.

This all sounds wonderful, right? But because of the acquisition case, El Paso Electric has been granted a delay in the filing date for the next rate case until three months after the acquisition is completed, so probably sometime late next year. And because we expect a rate reduction, everyday the rate case is delayed will cost us, the consumers, money.

But the City, the County and Merrie Lee Soules are working hard for us trying to get the delay reduced. Allen asks that next time you see a City Councilor, a County Commissioner, or Merrie Lee, thank them for their efforts on our behalf.

For more information, email Allen.

Celebrate Achievements & Stay Positive. Also, er… a Lord of the Rings Reference…

Representative Nathan Small, House District 36, said when he thinks of family, he thinks of all the opportunities he has had due to, in part, the people in his life and us PVAers. And, that was before what we have today in New Mexico, before we had the best clean energy laws, before we passed the minimum wage increase (different from the national minimum wage increase but better for our state), and improved access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act.

Nathan also lamented America’s current administration – which tries to bring out the worst in people; this is a dangerous style of leadership. Nathan is asking that we take this chance to march arm-in-arm “on Mortor” and conquer this election season in order to continue making the world a better place. [Ed. the 2 of us who work on the recap had no idea what Mordor was! We had to contact Nathan for an explanation!]

Nathan’s birthday was on August 28th, Happy Belated Birthday Nathan!

For more information, or to ask for a summary of Lord of the Rings, email Nathan.

Mill Levy on the November Ballot

Brigitte Zigelhofer from LCPS wanted to mention an item you will see on ballot on November 5. The mill levy is the public-school buildings tax which is integral for making building improvements in the schools, purchasing band instruments and uniforms for the middle school students, as well as helping support technology in the school which is important for STEM programs. Approval of the mill levy will not increase the current school tax rate. Brigitte said she hopes that everyone supports it for the sake of our schools and children.

For more information, visit the district website.

What’s Happening with the Triage Center??

Earl (aka “the Chosen One”) Nissen, announced he has asked that there be an investigation by the County Commission of the Triage Center. Going back to 2010, Ronald Gurly along with the National Association Mental Health wanted to establish a place in which police officers could bring people with mental health issues, rather than placing them in jail.

The center was opened in 2013 and it cost $2 million to build it and shortly after it opened, they found difficulties with the contracts and service providers… and it has become a pretty big mess.

Earl is hoping they can get to the bottom of it to ensure the center benefits the people it should.

Click here to read Earl’s letter.

Judge Joy Goldbaum, Running for Presiding Municipal Judge

Joy Goldbaum is running for Municipal Judge I, or Presiding Judge. She wants to implement problem-solving courts to make our communities safer. She explained that DWI and drug courts, as well as homeless courts can help reduce incarceration and costs to the public. She ran into fierce opposition within this current administration, so she wants to replace that administration.

Joy is currently a Municipal Judge and has been serving New Mexico families for nearly 30 years. She believes that everyone is equal before the law regardless of wealth or status, incarceration should be the last resort, and lastly that judges should be ethical, compassionate, and respectful to the people who appear before them. She also echoed Earl’s message, asking people to push for the triage center be used appropriately, namely by helping those with mental illness who don’t belong in jail.

For more information, visit Joy’s campaign website.

Tessa Abeyta Stuve, Running for City Council

“Tessa regrets that she couldn’t be here,” said Tessa’s dad, Frank, “and so she sent me.” Frank had bumper stickers and window decals at the meeting—contact the campaign if you want one or two to support Tessa. He emphasized that Tessa is working hard to earn votes, and is canvassing the district every day. He thanked everyone for their continual support and suggested talking to him if you needed more convincing!

For more information visit the campaign website, Facebook page, or email Tessa.

City of Las Cruces – Tree Steward Training

Craig Fenske wants to encourage you to become a tree steward! What is a tree steward exactly? Tree stewards plant, promote, and trim trees to create a better environment for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. It is 40 hours of volunteering with a 4-hour training session. They are only looking for 20 people to register so be sure to get in and grow, grow, grow!

It takes place on Wednesdays, October 2, 2019 through November 20, 2019, 8:00 AM-12:00 PM at the Frank O’Brien Papen Community Center.

Registration is limited to the first 20 people and you can register here.

For more information, email Craig.

Door Knocking Connoisseurs and Dabblers Needed

Luis Guerrero announced that he is managing Judge Joy Goldbaum’s campaign (for Presiding Municipal Judge, in case you forgot!) and he needs help knocking on doors to help spread her message.

Feel free to contact Luis or Cheryl Frank if you would like to help Joy (no experience needed, they will teach you how to knock on doors).

Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Running for Reelection

It’s official: Ken is seeking reelection as Mayor of Las Cruces and he said he will be needing your help to win. He thanked people for their continued support.

Check out this article: https://www.krwg.org/post/las-cruces-mayor-running-fourth-term

Early Voting begins at the Doña Ana County Government Center on October 8, 2019 and the Election will be held on November 5, 2019.

For more information, visit Ken’s campaign website.

Support for Ken Miyagishima

Former City Councilor and Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Thomas said she enthusiastically supports Ken Miyagishima for reelection. She said he has helped change the culture of the city council. She told us about how she and Nathan Small were advocating putting solar panels on the new City Hall building, and they were told by various staff that it would be too expensive or “it wouldn’t work.” Ken backed Sharon and Nathan, telling them to find out more and that he supported them. Sherry and Nathan researched the idea with the experts. When they presented the findings to city staff, with Ken’s support, the staff said, “Oh. That’s not too complicated.” And, in the end, the project was a big success. Sharon feels that it wouldn’t have been possible without Ken; she said he has helped create a bigger role for city councilors. Sharon personally thinks he made a huge difference by helping find the humor in situations and mellowing tensions in the meetings and discussions.

For more information, contact Sharon or visit Ken’s website.

Celebrate Labor with the Doña Ana Democrats

Mona Trempe, Chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County, said that while we focus on the upcoming Municipal elections, don’t forget that 2020 is coming. She asked that you help support the Democratic Party, help get out the vote in 2020, and keep New Mexico blue.

She also announced the DPDAC Labor Day Breakfast on Monday, September 2, at 9:00 AM at the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. She said she would love to see everyone there but if you can’t make it, please consider donating.

She also shared that they will have a booth at the Hatch Chile Festival and the Southern New Mexico State Fair and encourages everyone to participate in the fun!

For more information, visit the Party website.

Teresa Tenorio, Running for School Board

Teresa Tenorio is running for School Board, District 4, and will be on the ballot in the upcoming election in November. She said she is deeply invested and committed to the Las Cruces Public Schools.

She hopes you have seen some of the articles about her campaign in Las Cruces Sun News and/or Bulletin. She is a UNM graduate and has worked to prevent disease and create wellness initiatives. She is also an Emerge graduate.

For more information, visit her campaign website or email her.

Antoinette Reyes, Running for City Council

Antoinette Reyes, who is running for City Council, District 4, announced that she will be having a Meet & Greet on Friday September 6 from 5:30-7:30 PM at Amaro Winery (402 S Melendres). She said, “You can come support a local business and learn more about me.” There will be a food truck at 6:00 PM, she will give a speech at 6:15 PM, and then there will be LIVE music at 7:00 PM.

Also, she hopes you will tune in to the KTAL Candidate Forum on Wednesday, September 25, from 8:00 AM-9:00 AM. You can listen on 101.5 FM or online at LCCommunityRadio.org.

For more information, visit Antoinette’s campaign website or Facebook page.

SNMNP Focuses on Education at the September Meeting

As the co-chair of Southern New Mexico New Progressives, Antoinette Reyes announced there will be an event on Saturday, September 14 from 2:00 PM-4:00 PM at Sugie’s Diner (340 N Main St) where the discussion will be about Education in Las Cruces. Public Education Commissioner Pattie Gipson, LCPS Community Schools Coordinator David Greenberg, NEA State President Mary Parr Sanchez, NM Senator Bill Soules (chair of Senate education committee) will be the speakers.

For more information, visit the website or Facebook page.

PACE vs. Mortgage Bankers

Rocky asked for a show of hands of the people who currently have solar panels; probably 3/4 of PVAers raised their hands. So, as we know, solar energy is wonderful, but access is mostly limited to people with great credit, people who don’t have large mortgages, and businesses. That is why Rocky Bacchus is excited about PACE! PACE stands for property assessed clean energy (financing). On September 10 at 10:00 AM, the County Commission will be voting on PACE. The biggest opponents are mortgage bankers. Rocky said he thinks our community can be 80% solar in four years, if PACE passes, because solar is 50% of the cost of electric. He hopes you will attend the commission meeting and ask the commissioners to give clean energy & PACE a fair hearing.

The billboard.

For more information, email Rocky.

Carrie Hamblen, Running for State Senate

Carrie Hamblen, who joked that she is often mistaken for our county Sheriff, is running Senate, District 38. She will be hitting the ground running on November 6! For now, she wants people to focus on the other amazing candidates who will be on the November 2019 ballot. She also reminded everyone to become educated about ranked choice voting.

For a bit of background on her, she explained that because Hatch Act she couldn’t run for office before. She achieved her Master’s in Public Administration. She is also an Emerge graduate (class in 2015). As a radio host on KRWG, she interviewed over 500 people in 15 years.

Congratulations to Carrie and her wife on six years of marriage!

For more information, visit Carrie’s Facebook page.

Margaret Mendoza, Running for School Board

Margaret Mendoza is running for School Board, District 4. She told us that when she was a child, it was her mom’s goal to see her graduate high school. She told her mom, “I want a Ph.D.” And, so she went on to college, got her bachelor’s degree, Masters, and as she set out to do years before, she earned a Ph.D. She is a retired NMSU administrator.

She wants to see community schools in District 4 and she said she wants to hear what your concerns are regarding our school district.

For more information, visit Margaret’s Facebook page or email her.

SWEC has Moved!

Kevin Bixby shared that SWEC had to move suddenly, after being at their previous location for 17 years. They are now located at 350 El Molino Blvd, Las Cruces (off of Alameda). He invited everyone to an office warming party on Wednesday, August 28.

He also updated everyone about the wildlife contract at the county commission. He said commissioners Shannon Reynolds and Mandy Sanchez were champions on the issue, advocating for coexistence with wildlife. Check out the full story here.

For more information, visit SWEC’s website.

Support for Johana “Chingona” Bencomo

Abraham Sanchez threw his support behind Johana Bencomo, City Council candidate for District 4. “She is a chingona. If you don’t know the meaning of that word, it means a bad-a** woman.” He said Johana fights for justice and believes in love. He shared that when speaking to Johana about his concerns and worries, that he felt seen for the first time, loved, and challenged. Johana is the real deal, he said, and we need more “chingonas” in office.

For more information, email Abraham.

Fundraiser for Ken Miyagishima

Pat Aguirre is encouraging voters to reelect Ken. She said he promotes team work, positivity, and happiness. Pat announced there was a fundraiser for Ken on Sunday, August 25, and everyone was invited.

Moreover, Pat wants you to volunteer! She has sign-up sheets and she’s hoping people will help reelect Mayor Miyagishima. Click here for a list of Ken’s achievements as mayor.

For more information, email Pat.

Here’s a Chance to Attend a Legislative Interim Meeting, Without Having to Drive Four Hours

Joanne Ferrary, House District 37, announced the following committee meetings, happening in Las Cruces:

  • Disabilities Concerns Subcommittee (Joanne is the Chair): September 24
  • Legislative Health & Human Services Committee: September 25-27

They will be held at NMSU in the Barbara Hubbard room near the Pan Am center.

Joanne advised that this is a great way to participate with legislators and make public comments, concerns, and opinions heard.

For more information, email Joanne.

The Sheriff is asking for YOUR Support

DAC Sheriff Kim Stewart asked if PVAers would support her with two issues before the County Commission on August 27. First, she would like to raise the undersheriff’s pay; he is currently paid less than 23 of his employees. Second, she asked that constituents encourage commissioners Ramon and Solis to “support the existing Magistrate Court contract.” You can read more about that issue here.

For more information, email Kim.

It’s Sad that we Need to Talk about This

PVA had additional security at the August meeting. After the recent mass shooting in El Paso, the PVA executive committee wanted everyone to feel safe at the meeting. Ann Gutierrez explained this and introduced the security officer named Hope. Ann welcomes your thoughts on this, and understands it’s sad that we have been made to feel afraid just for gathering in a room to discuss community issues and express political views.

For more information, email Ann.

RESULTS Action

Rich Renner spoke to everyone about RESULTS Action and encouraged us to write or email Representative Torres-Small to urge her to co-sign House Resolution 517; this Resolution will support the global fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. [Conveniently, Rich was speaking right to the Representative, who was sitting in the front row.] The Senate Resolution will be in September as well.

He also announced that the next Global Fund Replenishment conference is on October 10 and we need Congress to continue strong American leadership to eliminate these three epidemics.

For more information, visit the RESULTS website.

Just how old are those Instruments?

School Board President, Ed Frank, echoed Brigitte (see above) and encouraged everyone to vote yes on the mill levy. “The money is needed to replace or improve things such as musical instruments, and,” he joked, “most of them are older than me! To give you sense of how old that is, my wife and I will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary tomorrow.” He thanked the governor for giving us back Dr. Karen Trujillo, who has been appointed Interim Superintendent. He feels that she will enable the school district to soar further and higher. He also announced that he will be running for reelection for the school board, and hopes to have your support and your vote.

For more information, email Ed or visit his campaign website.

Johana Bencomo, Running for City Council

Speaking about her campaign for City Council, District 4, Johana Bencomo she said she leads with relationships and wants to lead through love. She genuinely loves having conversations with her neighbors in the district, and that is what makes her excited to be a part of the leadership in Las Cruces. Johana is looking for volunteers to help her canvass and if you don’t know how or if you are shy, she said she will train you to get excited and pumped for change! She is also looking for and encouraging donations because every little bit helps, and she loves writing thank you notes too! 😉

For more information, visit Johana’s campaign website.

Shannon’s Views on PACE

Commissioner Shannon Reynolds spoke about the clean energy resolution that the county will be considering on September 10. He said he supports PACE. Why? Because, he said, it is simply the best choice for everyone. EPE isn’t about to lower the costs of solar. So, he asked that everyone imagine if every house was powered from solar what would it mean for the state… the country… the world? He said we need to hold El Paso Electric accountable and create better opportunities for solar at a local level.

For more information, email Shannon.

The Power of Grassroots Organizing

Who’s been hobnobbing with eight Democratic Presidential Candidates? You guessed it – Lucas Herndon! Ask him to see the pictures! He also announced the following:

ProgressNow New Mexico today called for the investigation, by appropriate State officials including the Attorney General, Secretary of State and the State Ethics Commission, of various activities of Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza. Those activities came to light after an examination by ProgressNow NM and others of responses to public records requests and other information provided to Progress Now. The activities, if verified, range from inappropriate to criminal, and would include violations of both statutes and regulations.  

View full article here.

This is about keeping our representatives and elected officials accountable, Lucas explained.

Finally, he wanted to express that it warms his heart to see many legislators, elected officials, and candidates at PVA. They come here because they know PVA is an active group comprised of people who care about the community – it’s quite a compliment. [Thanks, Lucas! We agree! PVA is AWESOME!]

For more information, contact Lucas on Twitter.

US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small Comes Home to PVA

Xochitl Torres Small shared that she was happy to be home for the August recess. She said that she understands how much representation matters; when speaking to a Latina from Roswell, or a local intern from Doña Ana County, or to Dreamers from Las Cruces – she feels it is an honor to represent them. She’s been doing town halls all over the district, visiting all 19 counties in CD2, and she has met 90% of individual meeting requests in Las Cruces. You can follow her schedule on her Facebook page.

Xochitl will be having a town hall in Las Cruces on September 5, at 6:30. It will be at Munson Senior Center. Click here for more information.

For more information, visit Xochitl’s congressional website.

Have you Attended Conversations with Democrats?

Rosemarie Sanchez announced the upcoming Conversations with Democrats, with Dr. Karen Trujillo leading the discussion. If you haven’t yet been to “Conversations,” make sure to mark your calendar for the next one (usually the 4th Saturday of the month, from 2-4pm). Click here to see the topics that have been covered.

For more information, email Rosemarie or visit the website for the Federation of Democratic Women of Doña Ana County.

Kasandra Gandara, Running for City Council Reelection

City Councilor Kasandra Gandara (District 1) is running for reelection in November. She feels that Las Cruces is well run and is the kindest city in the nation. She founded the Resilience Leaders Program, strengthened the Mano y Mano program that employs the homeless, founded the Suicide Prevention Taskforce, and much more!

Kasandra wants everyone to have access to basic family services. The Doña Ana County Resilience Leaders are conducting this survey (in English and Spanish) to collect data about our access to basic family services. Your voice matters, so please take 10 minutes to share your thoughts and experiences on access to services like medical care, child care, job training, transportation, housing, and more.

Please visit the following link for the survey: http://bit.ly/dacfamilies

For more information, visit Kasandra’s Facebook page, her campaign website, or email her.

Gina Ortega, Running for Mayor

Mayoral candidate Gina Ortega shared that she enjoys talking to people about public safety and the community. She said she knew someone who died in the El Paso shooting and she shared that she’s afraid for the public’s safety and for her own, especially because of the color of her skin.

In terms of her platform, Gina said that many people in the community want to enjoy the entertainment options in Las Cruces but she wants there to be more options than just downtown. She feels that Las Cruces is not family or business friendly and she wants to personally help change that for the community. She thanks everyone involved in her campaign and reminded everyone that ranked choice voting will be used this year for municipal candidates (races with 3 or more candidates).

For more information, visit Gina’s campaign website or Facebook page.

Las Cruces Makes Us Proud

Mayor Pro-Tem Gill Sorg announced that USA Today News recognized 13 heroes – 11 individuals, 1 program, and 1 city. Las Cruces is the city being recognized for its astounding response to the influx of asylum seekers earlier this year. Congratulations, Las Cruces, you are truly a wonderful place. Read the full story here.

PVA Meets Again:
Thursday, September 26, 7pm
Munson Senior Center