KRWG

Building Upon Inclusion In Las Cruces City Government

Nov 20, 2019

Credit Johana Bencomo

Commentary: I cried the day I walked into the voting booth and saw my name on the ballot. I cried because I honestly couldn’t believe it. Here I am, a 31-year-old community organizer, first generation college graduate, and an immigrant who just 16 years ago was undocumented. At that particular moment the outcome of the election didn’t weigh on me as much, I felt so proud regardless.

I became a naturalized U.S. Citizen at 16 years old. Back then, I deeply believed in the American Dream. I strive every day to live up to the sacrifices of my parents and the opportunities they created, and I hope to be part of creating a world where many others can start believing in this dream again. 

College became a reality once I became a U.S. citizen. I chose New Mexico State University after driving through Las Cruces on a family trip to our hometown in Mexico. I fell in love with the campus immediately and soon after it became my home for many years to come. My very traditional parents could not imagine their oldest daughter alone in a new state. They decided to move with me, settling in Deming for two years before deciding to move back to Holyoke, CO-- the small town where we originally settled after migrating to the U.S. My freshman year at NMSU was quite a culture shock. I was so intimidated and overwhelmed that my first semester I earned a 1.8 GPA. I stopped being embarrassed to share this after graduating with my Masters in Social Work with Honors. That failure simply became an important lesson that taught me to not be afraid to ask for help.

After graduating with my Masters I found my purpose in community organizing. At its core organizing is about bringing people together to take collective action and shift the way power functions in our communities. To me, organizing is simply about turning our pain into power. Through this work I have seen how those who are directly impacted by an issue or policy are almost never consulted before a decision that will impact their fate is made. Those in decision making roles are even less likely to come from historically marginalized communities. All of this influenced my decision to run for City Council.

I will always lead by the principle that those who are closest to the pain are also those who are closest to the solution. When I canvassed every neighborhood in District 4, I saw and heard beautiful and difficult things. I saw families and individuals who are suffering in silence, I saw neglected neighborhoods, and met people who are making miracles happen every single day. I heard frustrations and great ideas. I felt the resiliency, courage, and potential of our city.

As City Councilor-elect for Las Cruces District 4, I intend to create greater access for you to your government, to work towards creating a participatory budgeting process where more of us decide how to spend our public dollars, to increase voter participation, and to build a more inclusive community that values the inherent dignity and worth of every single one of us. I am honored and excited to serve you, the residents of District 4 and our beautiful Las Cruces. Thank you all for your support.