March 26, 2020 – Virtual PVA

Casa de Peregrinos seeks donations

Eric Walkinshaw reported that Casa de Peregrinos, the food pantry serving all of Doña Ana County, remains operational, serving clients at the main pantry in Las Cruces, senior centers, and several rural pantries. Please go to Casa de Peregrinos’ website or Facebook page to learn what CdP is doing during this crisis. Any level of donation – which can be made on the website — is welcome, especially a monthly donation that allows better planning to meet client needs. For more information, email Eric.

State Senator Joseph Cervantes, Running for Re-election (also: Special Session coming?)

Senator Joseph Cervantes has been working to ensure that there is adequate COVID19 testing in southern New Mexico and that the State Department of Health and other state agencies are providing full service to rural communities in Southern New Mexico. He is expecting a special session to address current challenges, including state finances and hard-won progressive gains. Joseph pointed to his years of work to address gun violence and domestic violence, and his championing of initiatives to address climate change, water issues and government ethics, as key reasons he hopes you will support his re-election to the State Senate this year. Since, due to coronavirus measures, he won’t be seeing us at our doors in the foreseeable future, he invited us to keep in contact via his Facebook account, Twitter @SenJoeCervantes, and his campaign website. He said, “Please reach me to discuss your vote, and anything I can do to assure the State is there for all of us in the serious days ahead.” For more information, email Joseph.

While social distancing, count on KTAL 101.5 FM (and afterwards too!)

Linda Hall, Program Manager for our local community radio station KTAL 101.5 FM, reminds us that KTAL has coronavirus updates and conversations with local representatives every Monday, Wednesday (incorporated into Peter Goodman’s regular program) and Friday at 9 am. This programming, along with other local, state, and national information, is also available for streaming on the KTAL website. Linda thanks the community for taking precautionary steps to self-isolate so that everyone stays safe.  For more information, email Linda.

Councilor Gill Sorg thanks everyone on behalf of City of Las Cruces

Mayor Pro Tem and District 5 Councilor Gill Sorg reports that the City of Las Cruces is doing well, and he thanks all who are doing the things necessary to help control the spread of the coronavirus. He reminds everyone to isolate themselves by staying at home, only using grocery and gas stations when absolutely necessary, and at all times keeping a 6 foot distance from non-household members. Gill encourages us to stay the course so that we can lower the curve and get through all this in a shorter time.  For more information, email Gill.

How to social-distance-socialize & get your local news

Ann Gutierrez wants us to know that she will miss seeing everyone this month at the PVA meeting, which reminds her how much she enjoys greeting each of you and the many hugs that are exchanged. She reports that she and Don are enjoying virtual telephonic Happy Hours with friends (the drinking and snacking aren’t virtual!), and lengthy telephone conversations with friends and family. She says she continues to appreciate Charlotte Lipson’s email messages which contain important and necessary information. She urges anyone not already signed up for Charlotte’s emails to email Charlotte and ask to be put on her list.  For more information or a virtual hug, email Ann.

Timebank offers help during social isolation

Doña Ana Communities United (DACU) is a community-based organization that aims to increase health equity. Samantha MacNeil explained that they do this by utilizing 3 main initiatives: Mesilla Valley Timebank, Social Equity Mapping, and the Just Community Radio Show (every Thursday from 8 to 9 AM on our community radio station, KTAL-LP 101.5 FM). They have started a new project called The Timebank Amigos which aims to keep members of our community connected while in social isolation. Please visit the website for further information and for upcoming events. You can also contact Samantha for more information: (575) 323-1422 or email

He’s essential!

Rocky Bacchus wants us to know that his company, One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating, as a contractor providing air conditioning and disinfection services, is considered an “essential business” and will therefore stay open. He emphasizes that they are using all due care in accordance with W.H.O guidelines to protect their clients and team members. He points out that One Hour has for many years provided virus disinfection for clients who have health concerns, and he encourages customers who want whole home air conditioning disinfection (not the home surfaces, but disinfection of the air every ten minutes) to order soon, as supplies are limited. For more information, email Rocky.

You might find a Bob Dylan song to hum… Read on…

Kathy Wooten applauds Charlotte Lipson’s email communications to us all, pointing particularly to Charlotte’s message concerning the critical time frame for making an official comment about the proposed HOLTEC nuclear waste storage facility. Here is where to send your comment: 

  • Go to https://www.regulations.gov/and search for Docket ID NRC-2018-0052.  Address questions about NRC docket IDs to Jennifer Borges; telephone:  301-287-9127.  Email:  Jennifer.Borges@nrc.gov
  • Mail comments to:  Office of Administration                                     
    Mail Stop:  TWFN-7-A60M                                     
    ATTN:  Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff,      U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission                                     
    Washington, D.C. 20555-0001
  • Email comments to:  Holtec-CISFEIS@nrc.gov

Kathy also extends deep appreciation to our local healthcare warriors, our City and County essential services, our grocery store management and staff, our restaurants still offering food via take-out/drive through, our pharmacies and staff, our gas stations and staff, and our neighbors/volunteers throughout , who are doing their best to assist in complying with public health standards and helping one another. This foundation of care has always been with us, Kathy points out, saying, “The times, they are a changing, but the truth and sense that is the foundation of this care has always been with us. And Truth does not change in spite of politics, opinions, stock portfolios, or blind nationalism.” For more information, email Kathy.

Debra Hathaway, Running for County Commission

Debra Hathaway asks for the opportunity to continue her life of service as our next Doña Ana County Commissioner, District 4.  Deb believes county government should reflect our values of community, diversity, fairness, opportunity and respect, and that quality health and behavioral care, good schools, safe communities, a protected environment and wildlife, and good jobs are vital to our success. “I will work hard, use my leadership skills and experience to serve with integrity and ensure every voice is heard. Let’s motivate our young people to stay here to live, work and raise a family.” For more information visit Debra’s website or email her.

Vote by mail

For the primary, Cheryl Frank is going to vote by mail. “Easy peasy!” she reports. Just call the County Clerk at 575-647-7428 and give your name and address! They will send you the application. You can also click here and do it online, but the calling option is easier, in Cheryl’s opinion. For more information, email Cheryl.

Don’t forget to complete your 2020 Census Questionnaire!

“It only takes a few minutes to respond,” Paul Dulin reminds us. If you received a letter in your mail, use the ID number provided and then complete your 2020 Census questionnaire! If you live in a rural area and use a PO Box, just answer several questions to describe where you live (you will be prompted) then proceed to complete your questionnaire online.
Any questions? Contact Paul

State Rep. Rudy Martinez, Running for Re-election

Campaign Manager Rick Lass passed on a message from State Representative (District 39) Rudy Martinez, who wishes you all continued health and peace of mind during these unprecedented times. He reports, “Our campaign will be stressing phone calls and social media to contact voters. Please activate your Personal Influence Networks to remind people of the upcoming Primary Election. We are also encouraging all Democrats to vote by mail.” Absentee Ballot Applications are now available at www.nmvote.org. For more information and to volunteer, email Rick.

Karen Whitlock, Running for State Representative (District 38 Write-in Candidate) 

Rick Lass (remember… from above?) also let us know the following: “District 38 covers most of Sierra and Grant Counties. No Democrat filed on March 10, so Karen Whitlock put her name out as a certified write-in candidate. If she receives 106 write in votes on June 2, her name will appear as the Democratic Party nominee on the November general election ballot. Please ask your friends in Grant and Sierra to write in Karen C Whitlock for state representative, District 38. And please, stay home and stay healthy.” For more information and to volunteer, email Rick.

The impact of the coronavirus on our lives and future

Don Kurtz wrote that he, like all of us, is trying to understand what the coronavirus pandemic will mean for our future. He shares two links that he has found helpful, one an examination by Future Crunch, circulated by Larry Gioannini and others, that looks to a collapse of a shared
public narrative and considers what might replace it. A second link from Medium, circulated by Alison Tinsley and Chris Fields, convincingly lays out the rationale underlying the current public health effort to contain the coronavirus. Together the articles underscore the immensity of the change in mindset we are currently experiencing, both collectively and individually, as we merge personal responsibility with an understanding of the planetary stakes. If you want to share any of your own thoughts on this, email Don.

HAZLO Foundation seeks board members

Bob Libby explained that the Hazlo Foundation, which for the past year has been supplying trained and background checked mentors to work with students at the Lynn Community School, is seeking board members. The objective of the Foundation is to help students develop academic and life skills. The students do individual and group projects and have the opportunity to maintain a positive relationship with an adult. Some projects have included: a bike and skateboard repair program, a student newspaper, painting two bathrooms at Lynn Community School, recording a music CD at Cruces Creatives, working in conjunction with “Kids Can” to make products to sell at the Saturday market (teaches entrepreneurial  skills), and working in conjunction with “The Stars Program” (high school mentors). Please visit www.hazlofoundation.org to learn how you can contribute to make Las Cruces a better place with happier, more self-confident young people. For more information, email Bob.

Tracy Perry, Running for State Senate, District 38

Tracy Perry thanked PVA for having the low-tech virtual meeting, so that we can still be in touch with each other. She encourages everyone to stay home during this time if at all possible. “Our Governor has been an amazing leader during this time and I hope we can all take her lead. I know it’s a scary time, but we will get through it together.” In addition to being a candidate for Senate District 38, she is also CEO of Direct Therapy Services, which works with State agencies, most of whom have had to shut down. If you have been laid off, she encourages you to call the Department of Workforce Solutions at 877-644-6984. In campaign news, she says, “We’ve had to adjust our campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to move to a digital setting, and I will be giving updates on my Facebook page, so I encourage everyone to follow me here. Finally, I need small dollar donations more than ever as we try to get through this important campaign. If you can chip in $5, $10, $25, or more, you can do so here.” If you have any questions or comments, you can call Tracy at 575-446-9078.

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

Allen Downs reported that the PRC held a public meeting in Las Cruces to update us on ongoing cases affecting Doña Ana County and to hear our input. A recording of that meeting is available here. The PRC has held a hearing on EPE’s request for approval of Purchased Power Agreements (PPAs) for 200MW of solar and 100MW of battery storage. We should soon have a recommended decision. We are in the early stages of examining EPEs request for approval to buy a new 228MW gas fired generator. There is a hearing scheduled for 11 May. Allen feels that the EPE should NOT be allowed to buy a gas generator which will become useless in 25 years when EPE will be required to get 100% of the power sold in New Mexico from “non-carbon” (nuclear or renewable) resources. He encourages everyone to remember Merrie Lee Soules’ battle cry – (Say it out loud!) NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION. For more information, email Allen.

Melissa Ontiveros, Running for State Senate, District 31

Melissa says that as a Public Health expert and advocate, she encourages you to stay home to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. She added, “As a Mental Health specialist, I understand social isolation can lead to loneliness, increased anxiety and acute and/or chronic health conditions. It is important that you stay in touch and remain connected to your family and friends through phone calls, video conferences, texting and emails.” She is running for this seat because she believes “it is time for change in District 31 and New Mexico.” Her campaign is looking for volunteers (which will keep you busy and in touch with the community, she reminds us).  You can learn more at Melissa’s campaign website.

Tickets still available in SWEC’s Prius raffle

Kevin Bixby tells us: “Here’s something you can do at home – buy a ticket in the Southwest Environmental Center’s annual Prius raffle, help protect wildlife and maybe win a car! We’re only selling a max of 500 tickets. With less than a month to go, we’ve sold less than 200. That’s bad for us, but good for you since we’ll hold the drawing on April 18th regardless of how many tickets we’ve sold. So what are you waiting for? Buy your ticket today!” For more info email Emma.

Elections and DPDAC in the time of Covid-19

Democratic Party of Doña Ana County Chair, Mona Trempe, reminds us that in addition to profound effects on everyone’s personal and business lives, the current public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus is also likely to affect the election process in 2020 and is already changing DPDAC’s activities and projects. 

We in New Mexico are fortunate to have a very robust election process: We have paper ballots that provide a secure record, there are many opportunities for early voting, and everyone may “vote by mail” by requesting an absentee ballot. You can request an absentee ballot NOW by clicking here. Ballots will be mailed as early as May 5. Alternatively, you can contact the Doña Ana County Clerk’s office by phone 575-647-7421 or visit their website.

A number of DPDAC’s activities and projects have already been affected and longer-term adaptations and adjustments are likely. Thus far, 

  • All DPDAC general and committee meetings are now being carried out virtually via teleconference or videoconference. Information on how to “attend” the County Executive Committee meetings will be contained in each calendar listing on the DPDAC website.  
  • The in-person candidate forum has been cancelled. In order to provide at least some information about candidates’ positions, the Forum Committee is working on written questions for them. The responses will be disseminated as widely as feasible prior to the start of early voting.
  • Planning is currently “on hold” for any in-person fundraising events, but check out our NEW DPDAC-branded water bottles and tote bags. 

For more information, contact Mona.

Neomi Martinez-Parra, Running for State Senate, District 35

Neomi Martinez-Parra, who is running for New Mexico State Senate District 35 (this seat is currently occupied by John Arthur Smith), said that first and foremost she wanted to express her heartfelt condolences to all families who have lost loved ones during this time of uncertainty. She hopes you and your family are staying well and safe during this time. “While it is unclear what exactly the next few weeks will look like, we know that campaigns must go on,” asserts Neomi, who is asking for help phone banking. Phone banking makes it possible to have real conversations with voters from the comfort of your own home.  

 Neomi adds: don’t forget these precautionary measures: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick; and stay at home.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine if you choose.
  • Vigorously wash your hands often with soap & warm water, for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Also, to avoid wide spread during election season, Neomi encourages everyone to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail. You can do so by contacting your County Clerk’s office. She summed up, saying, “The New Mexico Primary election is June 2nd and if you live in my District, I am humbly asking for your vote. It is time for new leadership in our State and to vote YES for progress. Adelante! P.S. I am excited to announce that we received the Sierra Club endorsement!” For more information, visit the campaign website.

Carrie Hamblen, Running for State Senate, District 38

Carrie Hamblen is one of three candidates for the Senate District 38 seat and has to say that boy, it’s an interesting time to campaign! She says she’ll be using creative approaches in the coming weeks to get her message out without putting community members in harm’s way.  She pledges to support progressive ideals in southern New Mexico, to make funding for Behavioral Health Services and Women’s Reproductive Health a top priority, and to fight for more support of teachers and Early Childhood Education; she will continue to be the voice for creating jobs, entrepreneurship, and locally owned businesses. She asks for your help on her campaign. “The time is now for a new perspective,” says Carrie, and she hopes she can count on your vote on or before Election Day. Early voting begins May 5th, the Primary is June 2nd. Carrie is available for a phone conversation at 575-496-5242 or you can visit the campaign website.  

Eugenia (Gina) Montoya Ortega, Running for Doña Ana County Treasurer

As co-owner of the small business, La Fiesta Bakery, Gina says she is running to instill dignity, integrity, and pride into the Treasurer’s Office of Doña Ana County.

Gina’s goals are to:

  • Establish an excellent reputation
  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Increase our credit rating
  • Maximize the rate of return on our investments
  • Present accurate financial reports
  • Establish equitable tax collection practices
  • Ensure the safekeeping of public records
  • Increase transparency by publicly reporting on all audits
  • Improve and update the departments website

She says she also knows that the current Corona Virus pandemic will require the experience, knowledge, and creativity of a business owner who has learned to adapt to change. She asks for you to vote for “a faithful public servant with the best interest of all people at heart.” For more information, email Gina.

Siah Correa Hemphill, Running for State Senate, District 28

Campaign volunteer, Lita Furby, explained that Siah is running for State Senate in District 28 (Grant, Catron, and most of Socorro Counties). She wants us to know more about Siah, who was raised in Grant County and has been an educator for 25 years. Siah’s top priorities are improving education in our state, making health care affordable and accessible for all, developing small business and local job opportunities, and protecting our environment. She has been endorsed by Emily’s List, Working Families Party, and the Sierra Club. Lita believes that electing Siah (over her opponent, Gabe Ramos) will greatly increase the chances of our State Senate passing legislation that will move our state forward in all of these key areas listed above. You can learn more about Siah and how you (or people you know in District 28) can contribute to her campaign here. For more information, email Lita.

State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, Running for Re-election

Rep. Joanne Ferrary’s Campaign Field Organizer, Pat Aguirre, wants us to know she’s heeding the Governor’s orders to stay at home. She says she is working to find creative ways to communicate with voters. Pat says that Joanne deserves to be re-elected. “When Joanne creates/co-sponsors and votes for legislation, she is truly thinking of all her constituents and all County residents,” Pat reminds us. “Although the session is over for this year, Joanne continues to work on special committees, etc.  If there are any special needs at the legislature, at the request of the Governor, Joanne will be there. That is why Joanne needs to be re-elected in 2020.” Pat explained that door-knocking is not an option at this time, but she is sponsoring a virtual fundraiser on Joanne’s behalf. Donations of $25, $40, $50 are most appreciated (any donations gratefully accepted). Click here to donate. For more information, email Pat.

State Sen. Bill Soules, Running for Re-election

Connie Chapman wanted to take her 2 minutes to say, “It’s been a privilege to work with Senator Bill Soules in Santa Fe for the past 3 legislative sessions as his Legislative Assistant. I see first hand his dedication to the constituents of District 37, and to the overall well-being of the citizens of the State of New Mexico.” Bill serves as the Chair of Senate Education Committee and is a member of Senate Conservation Committee. Connie continued, “Senator Soules has the respect and admiration of his personal office staff, committee analysts, and the staff of all the different legislative support departments, which makes  him a very effective member of the Senate, and a pleasure to work for. Let’s make sure we support Senator Soules’ re-election campaign.” For more information, email Connie.

Mayor Miyagishima outlines city response to epidemic

Mayor Ken Miyagishima stressed that we need all hands on deck for our community to successfully address the current COVID-19 crisis. He says our collective task right now is to stop the virus from spreading and to keep our medical system from being overwhelmed. Ken will be bringing several proposals to the city council tomorrow that will provide support to our courageous health care workers and first responders, as well as make sure our elderly and disabled residents aren’t left behind during the crisis. Ken says he has never been more proud of the people in our city: our health care workers, our first responders, our cashiers and grocery store workers, our day care providers, delivery people, truck drivers and so many others, and to all our residents for staying at home and keeping the virus contained. He sends his best wishes to us all.

Gerald Byers, Running for District Attorney

Chief Deputy District Attorney Gerald Byers is thrilled to announce that on March 17, 2020 the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office Bureau of Elections notified him that he qualified as a candidate for the position of Third Judicial District Attorney in the 2020 election cycle, after filing his Declaration of Candidacy, Nominating Petitions and other essential documents on March 10, 2020. His campaign focuses on maintaining prosecution integrity, dignifying the justice process, supporting diversion and mental health initiatives, and applying firm, but fair justice. You can learn more about Gerald at his campaign website. For more information please email Gerald.

Protection for migratory birds

Trish Cutler asks us to please read the newly introduced legislation, H.R. 5552 — the Migratory Bird Protection Act, and ask Representative Torres-Small to cosponsor this important bill. Since December 2017, the Trump Administration has dropped nearly all protections for migratory birds in order to benefit industry. This bill reestablishes those protections, and establishes a fair permit system for those entities that can’t avoid taking migratory birds. For more information, email Trish.

Volunteer for Sierra Club

Are you interested in continuing your activism from the comfort of your home? Antoinette Reyes, Sierra Club Chapter Organizer, invites you to connect with her to get involved. She is working on a campaign involving oil and gas in the Permian Basin, working against the border wall, and helping change the narrative of what the borderlands are like. For more information, email Antoinette.

Update on Las Cruces Public Schools

Maria A. Flores, Vice President of the LCPS Board of Education reported that even though the schools are closed because of the virus, the district has continued to serve over 40,000 students Pac and Go Breakfast and Lunch – mostly delivered by Principals and Assistant Principals. Teachers have reached out to over 20,000 students’ parents to find out how their children are doing, and to assess any additional needs that the student and family may have. This identified about 500 families that had additional issues, such as lack of transportation to pick up food. Follow up will continue as the issues are addressed by district counselors and social workers. Beginning March 30th, schools will start a Virtual Spirit Week, so check the website or Facebook page. Finally, Dr. Karen Trujillo has been reading The Phantom Toolbooth online, and the links are below. Dr Roberto Trujillo is reading it in Spanish. The District is really working hard to provide what is needed by our students! Enjoy!  For more information, email Maria.

Introduction to The Phantom Tollbooth

PVA Meets Again:
Thursday, April 23, 7pm
Virtual or In-Person – TBD – We’ll let you know!